Former Yankees shortstop Tony Fernandez passes away at 57

A five-time All-Star, four-time Gold Glover and 1993 World Series winner, Tony Fernandez spent the 1995 season with the Yankees, helping the Bombers reach the ALDS.

Former Yankees shortstop Tony Fernandez passed away on Saturday evening following complications of polycystic kidney disease. First diagnosed in 2017, Fernandez suffered a stroke two weeks ago and was placed in an induced coma as he received treatment for his illness.

A 17-year major league veteran, Fernandez’s career will forever be synonymous with the Toronto Blue Jays. Across four separate stints with the Jays, Fernandez became the franchise’s all-time leader in games played, hits, singles, triples and WAR.

Four of Fernandez’s five All-Star appearances came as a member of the Jays (1992 was with the Padres). Fernandez also won four straight Gold Gloves with Toronto between 1986-89 — and following a midseason trade from the Mets in 1993, was a pivotal contributor to the Jays’ World Series-winning team.

A notoriously hard-nosed, fun player to watch, Fernandez signed with the Yankees in December 1994. In 108 games with the Yanks, the following season, Fernandez slashed .245/.322/.346 with 57 runs scored, 20 doubles, five home runs, and 45 RBIs in 438 plate appearances.

Fernandez’s veteran presence helped guide the Yankees to their first playoff appearance since 1981. Unfortunately, Ken Griffey Jr., Randy Johnson and the rest of the Mariners would beat the Yanks in the best-of-5 ALDS.

Although Derek Jeter had appeared in 15 regular-season games for the Yankees in 1995, Fernandez was widely expected to begin 1996 as the team’s everyday shortstop.

However, as fate would have it, Fernandez broke his right elbow diving for a ball during spring training, opening the door for Jeter to begin his Hall of Fame career.

Although Fernandez would miss all of ’96, he played another four seasons, even making his final All-Star team in 1999 at the age of 37.

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Former Yankees outfielder and Blue Jays’ teammate, Jesse Barfield, posted a photo on Twitter of he and Fernandez receiving a Gold Glove Award. The caption reads:

This is how I will remember Tony. Smooth as silk, graceful, giving, joyous, focused, and always someone you can count on not just in baseball but in life. Just an all around sincere person. Gone way too soon!!

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