Tony Fernández

Octavio Antonio Fernández Castro (June 30, 1962 – February 16, 2020), better known as Tony Fernández, was a Dominican baseball player who played as a shortstop in Major League Baseball (MLB) for seven teams from 1983 to 2001, most notably the Toronto Blue Jays. A five-time All-Star, Fernández was known for his defensive skills, winning four consecutive Gold Glove Awards (1986–1989). He batted over .300 four times, led the major leagues with 17 triples in 1990, collected 30 doubles six times and 20 stolen bases seven times. He also led American League shortstops in assists three times, and in putouts and fielding average twice each. After moving to the National League in a blockbuster trade following the 1990 season, he returned to the Blue Jays in a mid-season trade in 1993, and played a major role in helping the club repeat as World Series champions, batting .333 with nine runs batted in during the series.

Tony Fernández
Born: (1962-06-30)June 30, 1962
San Pedro de Macorís, Dominican Republic
Died: February 16, 2020(2020-02-16) (aged 57)
Weston, Florida, U.S.
Batted: Switch
Threw: Right
MLB debut
September 2, 1983, for the Toronto Blue Jays
Last MLB appearance
October 7, 2001, for the Toronto Blue Jays
MLB statistics
Batting average.288
Home runs94
Runs batted in844
Career highlights and awards
Member of the Canadian
Baseball Hall of Fame

Early life

Fernández was born in San Pedro de Macorís, Dominican Republic. He was first scouted by the Toronto Blue Jays' Latin America scout Epy Guerrero[1] and was signed as an undrafted free agent in 1979.[2]


Promoted to the Blue Jays in 1983,[3] Fernández became the team's full-time shortstop in 1985,[4] and contributed significantly to the team winning its first division title that year. Fernández continued to star for the Jays for several years afterwards. His 213 hits in 1986 were, at the time, a major league single-season record for a shortstop.[2]

Before the 1991 season, Fernández was traded to the San Diego Padres in a deal that also sent Jays star Fred McGriff to San Diego in exchange for Roberto Alomar and Joe Carter.[4] Fernández played for San Diego for two years. After the 1992 season, the Padres traded him to the New York Mets for D. J. Dozier, Wally Whitehurst, and a player to be named later.[5] After a disappointing start to the 1993 season, the Mets traded him back to the Blue Jays for Darrin Jackson.[4][6] He played well for the remainder of the season and was instrumental in helping the Blue Jays win the 1993 World Series against the Philadelphia Phillies. In that World Series, Fernández drove in nine runs,[4] a record for a shortstop.[7]

Before the 1995 season, Fernández signed a two-year contract with the New York Yankees.[8] It was because of an injury early in the season to Fernández that Derek Jeter was called up to the major leagues for the first time.[9] Fernández injured his elbow during spring training in 1996,[10] and missed the entire season.[11]

Tony Fernandez is a member of the Toronto Blue Jays' Level of Excellence.

Fernández signed with the Cleveland Indians for the 1997 season.[11] Thanks in large part to his own game-winning home run against Baltimore in the American League Championship Series[4]—the only 1–0 game in MLB postseason history with an extra-innings home run—he played in the 1997 World Series with the Indians. In Game 7 of the World Series against the Florida Marlins, Fernández hit a two-run single in the top of the third inning for the Indians' only runs of the game, and was in position to be credited with the Series-winning hit for Cleveland, had they won the game.[12][13] However, in the bottom of the 11th inning, Fernández committed an error on a potential double play ball while playing at second base, and the eventual World Series-winning run was put on base as a result.[14]

In 1998, he rejoined the Blue Jays, and revitalized his hitting, batting over .300 in two seasons there.[15] In 2000, Fernández played for the Seibu Lions in Japan[16] before returning to the majors the following year. When he returned in 2001, he briefly played for the Milwaukee Brewers but returned to Toronto late in the season,[17] and retired at its conclusion.[18]

A very thin man, Fernández had a tilted, wavering batting stance[19] that made it appear as if he might not be strong enough to hold his bat. From early in his career he carried a scar on his right cheek from a pitched ball. Fernández was a noted fitness fanatic.[20]

Early in his career, Fernández was well known for his exceptional defensive skills at shortstop, and was described by Ivan Maisel in a Sports Illustrated article as having "the range of a Texas cattleman".[21] He was especially famous for leaping into the air while simultaneously making an underhanded throw to first base, on balls hit far to his right.[22]

Fernández was awarded four consecutive Gold Glove Awards for his defense, from 1986 to 1989.[23] Fernández was also named to five All-Star teams. He finished his career with a .288 batting average in 2,158 games played, and batted .327 in postseason play. Fernandez hit for the cycle as a New York Yankee on September 3, 1995, against the Oakland Athletics.[24] He set a nine-year record for shortstops with a .992 fielding percentage in 1989,[4] while still holding the single-season fielding percentage record for third basemen with .991 in 1994.[25]

On October 17, 2016, Fernandez was inducted into the Ontario Sports Hall of Fame at the Sheraton Centre Toronto Hotel, where he thanked the fans in Toronto, Ontario and in Canada for embracing him.[26]

Illness and death

Fernández announced in 2017 he had been diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease.[27] On February 16, 2020, he died at a hospital in Weston, Florida following complications with a stroke, pneumonia, and an induced coma.[28][29][30][31]

See also



  1. MacNow, Glen (June 1986). "San Pedro de Macoris, Cradle of Major League Talent". Baseball Digest. Vol. 45, no. 6. Lakeside Publishing. p. 64. ISSN 0005-609X. Retrieved February 16, 2020.
  2. "Blue Jays legend Tony Fernandez reportedly dies at age 57". Yahoo Sports. February 16, 2020. Retrieved February 16, 2020.
  3. Tan 2005, p. 184.
  4. Porter & Naiman 2002, p. 235.
  5. Miller, Scott (October 27, 1992). "Padres Ship Fernandez to Mets : Baseball: Wally Whitehurst, D.J. Dozier are the players received in exchange for the All-Star shortstop". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved February 16, 2020.
  6. Sexton, Joe (June 12, 1993). "BASEBALL; Mets Make a Deal, Sending Fernandez Back North". The New York Times. Archived from the original on May 26, 2015. Retrieved February 16, 2020.
  7. Westcott & Kravetz 1994, p. 136.
  8. Curry, Jack (February 28, 1995). "Baseball; Top Prospect's Bottom Line Is No Replacement Games". The New York Times. Retrieved March 15, 2010.
  9. Bradley, Jeff (May 29, 1995). "With Tony Down, Jeter's Looking Up". New York Daily News. Retrieved April 7, 2014.
  10. Jack Curry (February 16, 2020). "BASEBALL;Fernandez Hurts Elbow; May Be Lost for Season". The New York Times. Retrieved February 16, 2020.
  11. "Tony Fernandez Joins Indians". The New York Times. The Associated Press. December 27, 1996. Retrieved February 16, 2020.
  12. Curry, Jack (October 27, 1997). "'97 WORLD SERIES; A Bitter Ending Frustrates Fernandez". The New York Times. Retrieved February 17, 2020.
  13. "1997 World Series Game 7, Indians at Marlins, October 26". Baseball Reference. Retrieved February 17, 2020.
  14. McKelvey 2001, p. 218.
  15. Porter 2000, p. 466.
  16. "Fernandez Signs With Seibu Lions". The New York Times. February 8, 2008. Archived from the original on July 12, 2012. Retrieved February 21, 2009.
  17. "Jays sign Tony Fernandez". CBC Sports. June 8, 2001. Archived from the original on November 5, 2012. Retrieved February 21, 2009.
  18. Bastian, Jordan (December 26, 2006). "Slick-fielding Fernandez seeks Hall call". Archived from the original on April 17, 2008. Retrieved February 21, 2009.
  19. Zaiontz, Dan. "Sportsnet's baseball panel discuss the greatest Jays to ever play the game" (PDF). Urban Male Magazine. p. 65. Archived from the original (PDF) on March 26, 2009. Retrieved February 21, 2009.
  20. Picken, Brock (August 21, 2013). "Sports Strength Training: Tony Fernandez Toronto Blue Jays". YouTube. Archived from the original on December 12, 2021. Retrieved February 17, 2020.
  21. Maisel, Ivan (June 3, 1985). "The Blue Jays Are Ruling The Roost". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved January 23, 2012.
  22. Sanchez, Jesse (September 25, 2005). "Who tops list of Latino shortstops?". Archived from the original on November 3, 2012. Retrieved March 4, 2009.
  23. Shofner 2007, p. 15.
  24. "Baseball Digest Archive - over 800 Issues". Baseball Digest. Vol. 56, no. 9. Lakeside Publishing. September 1997. p. 92. ISSN 0005-609X. Retrieved February 20, 2009.
  25. "Single-Season Leaders & Records for Fielding % as 3B". Retrieved April 24, 2019.
  26. "Fernandez put Cleveland in its last WS, now Ontario HOFer". Canadian Baseball Network. Retrieved January 5, 2017.
  27. Pickman, Ben (February 16, 2020). "Blue Jays Star SS Tony Fernandez Dies at 57". Sports Illustrated. Archived from the original on February 17, 2020. Retrieved February 16, 2020.
  28. "Tony Fernandez, Stylish All-Star Shortstop, Is Dead at 57". The New York Times. February 16, 2020.
  29. "Blue Jays legend Tony Fernandez is said to have been in critical condition". Archyde. February 2020. Retrieved February 16, 2020.
  30. "Former Blue Jays all-star Tony Fernandez in critical condition with kidney disease". CBC Sports.
  31. "Blue Jays legend Tony Fernandez dies at 57". Toronto Sun. Retrieved February 16, 2020.


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