Like so many Royals fans, Rick Carroll of Prairie Village grappled with the news of Yordano Ventura’s death on Sunday.
Carroll wanted to do something and recalled that just days earlier, he had re-watched “for like the 50th time,” the movie “Field of Dreams.”
“Everybody knows that movie,” Carroll said in a phone interview. “Everybody loves that movie and, baseball player or not, you can get choked up watching that one.”
In that film, a cornfield in Iowa serves as a sort of gateway between heaven and earth for baseball players.
So, Carroll decided to make a tribute to Ventura based on that and he created an image that has been shared hundreds of times on social media by Royals fans. You may have seen other versions of it, but here is the one Carroll designed:
“I thought it would be kind of touching to add that little flair and pay tribute,” Carroll said.
“I just imagined the stairway to heaven and all the baseball players go that route,” he added. “I just envisioned that.”
Carroll paused for a moment.
“I’ve been getting emotional lately,” Carroll said. “I’ve been kind of facing my own challenges lately.”
Last summer, Carroll suffered a traumatic head injury during a wakeboarding accident. He said that he lost the ability to speak for six weeks, which oddly enough, is better than expected. Carroll said he nearly died, and a neurosurgeon told him he might not talk for six to 12 months.
While Carroll has been making progress, he said he’s on disability and unable to work. However, he wanted to do something — anything — after the terrible news on Sunday.
“I was just inspired to make a tribute to Yordano,” Carroll said. “I’m going through my own thing now and I wanted to put that out and touch people in my own way.”
The image has been shared on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. It’s been shared by the likes of former Royal Jarrod Dyson and Steven St. John of the Border Patrol on 810 AM, who tweeted that he cried when he saw the image.
“I’m kind of surprised (by the response),” Carroll said. “I knew it was good when I saw it on screen at first. But I was surprised that it took off like that. …
“I really appreciate the recognition I’ve gotten and just the love. It’s been really touching to me that so many people were actually touched by it. I’m glad I could help ease the pain and let people know (Ventura is) in a better place.”
Carroll said the response was so great, that some wanted him to make an image that include other Latin American baseball players who died in the last few years: Miami Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez and St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Oscar Taveras.
Here it is: