Shortstop Tony Fernandez, a five-time All-Star who is the Toronto Blue Jays’ all-time leader in hits and games played, died Saturday at the age of 57.
The Blue Jays confirmed his death Sunday, calling Fernandez “one of our club’s most celebrated and respected players.
“Tony left an equally indelible mark in the hearts of a generation of Blue Jays fans during his 12 unforgettable seasons with the team. His impact on the baseball community in Toronto and across Canada is immeasurable.”
Fernandez had been dealing with kidney disease and suffered a stroke, according to Hector Gomez of Deportivo Z101.
Fernandez was signed by the Blue Jays as a teenager out of the Dominican shortstop hotbed of San Pedro de Macoris.
He helped the Jays reach the playoffs for the first time in franchise history in 1985 and was named an All-Star for the first time the following season.
A smooth fielder, Fernandez won four consecutive Gold Glove awards at the position from 1986-89.
He was also involved in one of the biggest trades the franchise ever made when he and first baseman Fred McGriff went to the San Diego Padres in exchange for second baseman Roberto Alomar and outfielder Joe Carter.
Fernandez played two years for the Padres and another for the New York Mets before returning to Toronto in a midseason trade in 1993 and helping the Blue Jays win their second of back-to-back World Series titles.
After leaving Toronto as a free agent at the end of the ’93 season, he eventually returned for a third stint with the club in 1999 — when, at 37, he became an All-Star for the fifth time.
In addition to the Blue Jays, Padres and Mets, Fernandez also played for the Cincinnati Reds, New York Yankees, Cleveland Indians and Milwaukee Brewers during his 17-year major league career. He finished with 2,276 hits, 246 stolen bases and a .288 batting average.