Some of the most talented Major League baseball players in the U.S. are natives of the Dominican Republic. In January, two young native talents were killed in car crashes
on the same night in their home country, which consistently ranks among the deadliest for motor vehicle crashes. In 2015, the World Health Organization ranked the Dominican Republic 15th-highest in the world and first in the Americas, with an average annual rate of 29.3 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants.
The Washington Post
called the January 22 crashes, “the latest in a disturbing string of talented, young Latino ballplayers who have died in accidents involving motorized vehicles.“ Twenty-five-year-old Kansas City Royals right-hander Yordano Ventura died, the only passenger in the car. Ventura was well known for his “fiery personality on the mound,” hard fastball and “explosive competitiveness,” and had been named to two All-Star Futures Games. “He was so young and so talented, full of youthful exuberance and always brought a smile to everyone he interacted with,” Royals General Manager Dayton Moore said in a statement.
Just hours earlier, former Cleveland Indians infielder Andy Marte was killed when he crashed into a house. Marte, 33, had been considered one of the top prospects in baseball as an Atlanta Braves minor-leaguer, and had also played for the Cleveland Indians and Arizona Diamondbacks. He had thrived playing in Korea for the past two seasons. “A great person on and off the field,” stated Marte’s agency.
Yordano Ventura’s close friend Oscar Taveras, a former St. Louis Cardinals outfielder, was killed at the age of 22, along with his girlfriend, in a car crash in the Dominican Republic in 2014.
In the Dominican Republic, “Baseball is a religion, the number one sport, and the most important product,” said SportsCenter broadcaster Pedro Gomez. “The players who make it are the kings of the island. They are the gods.” The New York Times called the two nearly simultaneous deaths in the Dominican Republic “a baseball tragedy in the homeland they shared.” Automobile accidents and death can strike anyone. It is important that all drivers comply with the rules of the road and understand the dangers involved with driving.
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