Honoring Yordano Ventura remains in the working stages, Royals officials say. Sadly, there are too many similar incidents in recent years to reference as examples.
Ventura died early Sunday morning in his native Dominican Republic from a car crash. The 25-year-old was four years into his promising Royals’ career with a contract that could have taken him through the 2021 season.
Now, the Royals are considering ways to pay tribute to Ventura, beginning with the team’s FanFest at the Kansas City Convention Center, which begins a two-day run on Friday.
“The best way I can describe it right now is we are going to go on with FanFest as scheduled and will have a lot of the same features as any FanFest,” said Toby Cook, Royals vice president of community affairs and publicity. “But the tone may be just a little different. We’re going to kind of do that by feel on Friday and Saturday.
“There will be the same autographs, a lot of the same stage schedule as before but there will be tributes to Yordano interspersed throughout the two days. What that entails I don’t know at this point.”
Pitchers and catchers report to spring training on Feb. 13, and the full squad reports on Feb. 16 with the first full team workout the next day.
As the season approaches, the Royals will make decisions on such tributes as a memorial, a uniform patch and consideration for the team’s Hall of Fame, despite only three full seasons of service for Ventura, who was known by the Royals as “Ace.”
“We will honor Ace in a big way in 2017, but exactly how has not been discussed,” Cook said.
Similar conversations have taken place in other front offices over the past few years.
Last September, Miami Marlins star pitcher Jose Fernandez, 24, and two others were killed in a boating accident on an early Sunday morning. The Marlins canceled their home game for later that day and when the season resumed with a home game, the entire Marlins squad wore Fernandez’s uniform No. 16.
That has never happened in baseball, outside of teams wearing Jackie Robinson’s No. 42 in an annual celebration.
After the game, Marlins players and coaches returned to the pitcher’s mound, where they placed their caps. The team added a “16” patch to the uniform for the rest of the season.
A bouquet of flowers arrived at the Royals offices from the Marlins on Monday.
After the 2014 season, St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Oscar Taveras, a friend of Ventura’s died along with his girlfriend in a car crash in the Dominican. He was 22. The Cardinals wore an “OT” patch on their uniforms throughout 2015.
There were tributes to Taveras on opening day and in May, on the one-year anniversary of his major league debut.
The Cardinals also made a financial commitment to renovate a baseball field in Tavaras’ hometown of Sousa.
In April 2009 Angels pitcher Nick Adenhart was a passenger in a car that was struck by a drunk driver. The 22-year-old Adenhart, who had pitched in four Major League games, was killed.
The Angels wore a patch with Adenhart’s No. 34 on their chest. The team also had a picture of Adenhart on the center field fence along with his No. 34 and his name above it.
In the Angels clubhouse, the team kept his locker with his jersey and they also maintained a locker on the road.