Kansas City Royals star pitcher Yordano Ventura died Jan. 22 in a car crash in his native Dominican Republic. He was 25.
His death was confirmed by Royals Vice President Mike Swanson, reports the Daily Mail.
The crash happened on a highway about 40 miles northwest of Santo Domingo, according to highway patrol spokesman Jacobo Mateo.
In a conference call on the afternoon of Ventura’s death, Royals General Manager Dayton Moore gave a statement:
Obviously our prayers go out to Yordano’s family, all his friends, his teammates, our fans and everybody throughout the baseball community. Everybody with our team and our organization is hurting deeply. This is certainly something that puts everything into strong perspective. It’s a reminder that nobody is guaranteed tomorrow. We loved Yordano. We loved his heart and who he was as a teammate and a friend. He’s somebody that challenged us all and made us better. We’re going to miss him.
Flags were lowered to half-staff at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City in honor of the pitcher.
Nicknamed “Ace” as a nod to both the 1990s movie and his effectiveness on the mound, Ventura was known for his 100 mph fastball, which helped the Royals reach the World Series in both 2015 and 2016.
The Dominican Republic, home to many MLB players, has the highest traffic accident death rate in the Americas, according to a 2015 study by the World Health Organization, reports ESPN.
The Royals frequently remind their Dominican players of that statistic, says Moore. “I’m intentional about it to the point where maybe it goes in one ear and out the other…. Whether it’s scouts, coaches or front office people, we feel extremely responsible as an organization to communicate effectively and challenge our players at every level of the organization about the importance of making great choices.”
Royals manager Ned Yost said Ventura will be buried on Jan. 24 in the Dominican Republic.
In a statement, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said, “Yordano was a key figure in the Royals’ recent success. His electric talent on the mound helped lead the Royals to two American League pennants and the 2015 World Championship.”
Born June 3, 1991, in Samana, Dominican Republic, Ventura was a construction worker when he tried out for the Royals at the team’s facility on the island. He had one of the best fastballs that scouts had ever seen, and made his big league debut in 2013.
Sources: Daily Mail, ESPN / Photo credit: Kansas City Royals