Remembering Tony Fernandez

Tony Fernandez had four separate stints with the Blue Jays. I was too young to witness his first tenure with the team. However, I clearly remember the remaining three.

The Jays reacquired Fernandez in June 1993 after Dick Schofield sustained a season-ending injury.

Fernandez’s return seemed to be a spark that helped turn things around. They struggled in the early part of that season. Fortunately, they straightened out before capturing their second straight World Series title. Fernandez played a role in that.

His 1999 season really sticks out in my mind. 37-years-old and an incredible .877 OPS!

I was fortunate enough to be at Skydome one Sunday afternoon and witnessed him nearly hit for the cycle against Montreal. From my perch in the 100s – right field foul territory, to be specific – I can recall the majestic flight of a ball he sent into the Expos’ bullpen. Along with Shawn Green, he would ultimately receive a well-deserved trip to the All-Star Game.

From an aesthetic point – and I don’t know why this caught my attention – I always loved how his last name and number were displayed on the back of the uniform. Something about a long last name on top of a thin “1” was mesmerizing.

It’s easy to see why he’s on the Level of Excellence: Single-season leader in games played (1986), at-bats (1986) and triples (1990); all-time team leader in hits, as well as singles and triples. Appeared in more matches than any other Blue Jay; five-time All-Star, four-time Gold Glove winner.

He was one of the best to ever wear a Jays uniform. From all accounts, he was also a great individual.

Gone way too soon, but will never be forgotten.

May his memory be a blessing.

ER

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