Blue Jays legend Tony Fernandez passes away at 57


Toronto Blue Jays legend and Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame inductee Tony Fernandez has passed away at the age of 57.

He had been in an induced coma in a Miami hospital due to complications from a kidney disease since early February. In recent days, Fernandez had shown some signs of improvement, but according to MLB Insider Hector Gomez, the Blue Jays great suffered a stroke on Saturday. Fernandez was removed from life support on Sunday.

Fernandez had been fighting Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD) for a few years now. PKD is a genetic disorder in which cyst clusters grow in the kidneys, causing the kidneys to enlarge and stop functioning over time.

As word of his death spread across social media,some of his former teammates shared their condolences.

Signed by the Blue Jays in 1979, Fernandez played 12 memorable seasons in Toronto, winning the hearts of fans with his patented submarine-style throws, unparalleled range and clutch hitting. The popular Dominican shortstop suited up for 15 games with the Blue Jays in 1983, before being named the club’s top rookie in 1984. In his first year as an everyday shortstop, Fernandez hit .289 to help propel the Blue Jays to their first American League East title.

Over the next five seasons, Fernandez established himself as one of baseball’s best all-around shortstops, leading the Blue Jays in batting average twice (1986, 1987), hits three times (1986, 1988, 1990) and triples four times (1986, 1987, 1989, 1990). He was also a three-time All-Star and four-time Gold Glove winner during that stretch. After two seasons in the National League with the San Diego Padres and New York Mets, Fernandez was dealt back to the Jays in June 1993. He proceeded to hit .306 in 94 games and play an integral role on the World Series-winning squad. In the six-game Fall Classic that year, Fernandez hit .333 and drove in a series-best nine runs.

Following one-year stints with the Reds, Yankees and Indians, Fernandez returned to Toronto to hit .321 and drive in 72 runs in 1998. He followed that up with a .328 batting average in 1999, the fifth best single-season average in Jays history, and was named an All-Star for the fifth time in his career. In his final tenure in Toronto in 2001, Fernandez set a club record with 16 pinch hits. The Blue Jays legend retired as the club’s all-time leader in hits (1,583), games played (1,450) and triples (72), and ranks third in batting average (.297). For his efforts, his name was added to the Blue Jays Level of Excellence in 2001 and he was elected to the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in 2008.

“We are heartbroken to learn that Tony Fernandez has passed away,” said Scott Crawford, the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame’s director of operations in a statement.

“Tony was a baseball legend in every sense. He was a five-time All-Star, four-time Gold Glove Award winner, a World Series champion and the Toronto Blue Jays’ all-time hits leader, but more importantly he was a gentle and thoughtful man who was always quick to pray for someone that he sensed needed help. When he was inducted into our Hall of Fame in 2008, he gave a very moving and inspiring speech that many of us still talk about today. We are grateful that in the years that followed, Tony continued to be a strong supporter of our museum who returned regularly to our annual induction ceremony. In my view, Tony was everything a Hall of Famer should be: an all-time great on the field and a charitable, selfless person away from it. We will miss him dearly.”

Fernandez is survived by his wife, Clara, and five children, Joel, Jonathan, Abraham, Andres and Jasmine.

5 thoughts on “Blue Jays legend Tony Fernandez passes away at 57

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  1. Tom Valcke – Stratford, Ontario – Tom Valcke put his iCASE Baseball Academy as well as his position of Head Coach at George Brown College into hiatus, when Hong Kong brought him there in 2018 to serve as head coach of their Men's Olympic baseball team, where he finished with unprecedented success in the 2018 Asian Games held in Jakarta, Indonesia, spiking their WBSC World Ranking from #41 to #28 in just one year under his tutelage. China then scooped up Valcke, as he became the GM and Head Coach of Panda Sport and Culture, a division of the China Olympic Federation, overseeing baseball and softball, and training the national team coaches of baseball and softball, men's and women's teams. Panda Sport and Culture is based in Zhongshan, China's nationally recognized "#1 Baseball City," located on the southeast tip of China, and has a climate much like Florida. On his own initiative, he spent his evenings working with the local coaches of Zhongshan's local amateur youth baseball teams. For the first time in history, the same city won all four 2019 China National Championship gold medals, in 18U, 15U, 12U and 10U, that city being Zhongshan! Valcke worked with the China Baseball Association and Major League Baseball in helping the world's largest country accelerate their evolution into baseball, and helped them design and build a professional baseball stadium, a 600-room dormitory, and a new HQ for Panda Sport and Culture, where he held the role of CEO, in charge of a staff of 60. Valcke, former Technical Director, and Executive Director of Baseball Canada, and former coach of Team Canada, remains a baseball analyst with CBC Canada Radio and TV. The former president/CEO of the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame, who spent a decade as the Canadian Supervisor with the Major League Baseball Central Scouting Bureau, served as a television broadcaster for the Montreal Expos, the GM of the Calgary Cannons Triple-A club, and the CEO/Head Coach of the World Children's Baseball Fair. He is the proud father of Alanna, Jaxon and Mia, and lucky husband of Paula since 1987. Jaxon and Mia are current star players and captains, respectively, of the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds baseball and softball teams. Mia also became the second female in history to play in World Cups for Team Canada Women's baseball team as well as Team Canada Women's softball team.
    The Baseball Reporter says:

    Tony’s ascension to his place in Heaven had to be instantaneous! Among the countless good deeds he did away from the cameras, without fanfare, this occurred in June/2008 when I was driving his family to YYZ the morning after his induction to the Canadian Ball Hall. Tony asked me if we could go via Stratford, & I gladly complied. Arriving, he asked where my brother Greg & his wife Cathy lived, and if we could stop by? Greg was dying of Cancer. Tony, his incredible wife Clara, and the kids then, unsolicited, spent the next 2+ hrs in the most powerful & passionate prayers I’ve ever heard. They screamed for Cancer to GET OUT! Unforgettable, and an honour to witness!

    If you want to see 22 seconds of the real Tony Fernandez, the gentleman, the pastor, compassionate, caring, selfless, giving, sensitive, a father, a friend, a man who truly had his priorities in order, here he is coaching at the HOF’s “Kids On Deck” summer camp. He appears at the 3 minute 10 second mark:

    RIP Tony! Tom Valcke

  2. cooperstownersincanada – Kevin Glew is a professional writer based in London, Ontario. His work has been featured on CBC Sports,, and He has also written articles for Baseball Digest, Baseball America, The Hockey News, Sports Market Report and the Canadian Baseball Network. He has been involved with the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame for more than 16 years, including a two-year stint as the museum's acting curator.
    cooperstownersincanada says:

    Thanks for sharing this, Tom.

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