Somewhere in my baseball card collection is an In Memoriam card for Ken Hubbs. Hubbs won Rookie of the Year and a Gold Glove for the Cubs back in the day. In 1964, a small plane he was piloting crashed, and he was killed.
In 2009, Angels pitcher Nick Adenhart was killed in a car crash by a drunk driver.
In 2002, Darryl Kile died in his sleep. In 2006, Cory Lidle's plane crashed into a building and he was killed. Lyman Bostock, gunned down in Gary, Indiana. Mike Barr, Padres outfielder. Dernell Stenson of the Reds. Steve Olin and Tim Crews, Cleveland pitchers killed in a boating accident in spring training. Joe Kennedy. Thurman Munson. The list goes on
Given the sheer number of players who pass through major league clubhouses during a season, sooner or later it's inevitable that bad luck will catch up to one of them. But we're never prepared when it does, because it never happens with warning.
And on top of the human tragedy, there's the inevitable "What if'"s, especially for a player as young and amazingly gifted as the late Oscar Taveras, who died in a car crash on Sunday. What if he'd been brought up sooner? What if he'd had more time. What if the Cardinals had made the World Series instead of the Giants, which would have put him in a dugout and not on the road in the Dominican Republic where he and his girlfriend lost their lives.
We have one shining playoff moment to remember Taveras by, a gargantuan home run. It is only human to wish we'd gotten more, and to contextualize the loss by the only way we knew him: through baseball.