“Youth is a flower of which love is the fruit; happy is he who, after facing watched its silent growth, is permitted to gather and call it his own.”
- Alexander Dumas, The Count of Monte Cristo
The loss of youth before their time generally happen on the field of war. Rarely does it strike it’s bitter blows against the men who run up and down the diamond shaped dusty grounds and grass fields that surround it
But in the space of a few hours, MLB had two young jewels fall to tragic accidents in the Dominican Republic. Yordano Ventura of the Kansas City Royals and former MLB player Andy Marte are now gone in the prime of their lives to enter the cornfield surrounding a diamond on a certain farm in Iowa to play in eternity when called upon.
Ventura, 25, was the flame-throwing righty whose personality was just as heated. Nothing was ever handed to him. He quit school at age 14 and worked in construction until he signed with the Royals academy for $28,000.
His story was about the struggle. It took him five years to make the major league roster in 2013 and a year later he made the staff symbolizing a young movement that would lead the Royals back to the World Series in 2014 losing a seven game classic to the San Francisco Giants. Ventura came out smelling like a rose in both games he pitched.
A year later the Royals returned to grasp the golden ring with a championship victory over the New York Mets in five games. But for Ventura it was a year of regression and conflict with the lowlight getting into three scuffles in three consecutive starts. But the other side of the coin was sweeter as he struggled in game three but Kansas City won the war and the World championship for the first time since 1985.
Marte, on the other hand was 33 and had done tours with the Atlanta Braves, Arizona Diamondbacks and and the Cleveland Indians. But when he failed to make the Pittsburgh Pirates team he left to play in South Korea. Ironically in his final MLB final game in August of 2014, he faced Ventura, who was starting for the Royals. He was playing winter ball in the Dominican League when this tragedy befell him.
No words indeed can summarize their lives but the road to becoming part of MLB for Latinos is often a case of the strongest surviving and the rest falling by the wayside. But these two men left a legacy of respect that was reflected back by the love shown through numerous players in the league who sent condolences to both through social media. It’s quite true then that young deaths shake athletes to their roots and once a part of the “fraternity” one remains linked forever.