As made clear by his nickname ("El Fenomeno"), Oscar Taveras was destined for greatness. Based on the memorial currently outside of Busch Stadium, the tremendous showing at his funeral, and the following reflections from ex-teammates, Oscar achieved greatness.
Tyrell Jenkins, RHP
OT was a guy you wanted on your team, in your clubhouse, and representing your organization. The guy had all the talent in the world, but better yet, he was the funniest guy around! Words cannot explain what he meant to me and the millions of people he affected. God makes no mistakes, and he called up a star player on Sunday for HIS big league team. Rest in peace, brother. Fly high!
Well, we all know how gifted Oscar was, and all the fans probably are going to remember him for the potential he displayed that never got a chance to show at the big league level, but I'll remember him as the fun and outgoing human being he was. He lived with me all of 2011 in Quad Cities, and it was fun how childish and fun he acted around the apartment—always with a smile on throughout the whole day. I was always giving him advice and helping him and Carlos Martinez adapt to life in the States. It was funny because to them at that point, it was so different from Dominican Republic. There was never a dull moment with him and if Carlos was around, it was even better. That's how I'll remember him.
Alex Reyes, RHP
Oscar was an amazing person. He was a kid who had nothing but love and passion for the game. He was like a brother to me. He was the guy in the clubhouse that made me feel like a Cardinal from the first day I set foot in Jupiter. Back home in the Dominican Republic, Carlos and Oscar are role models. Both of them coming up together throughout the system and experiencing 45,000+ people at Busch Stadium is something out of a book. It’s literally everyone’s dream. It came true for them. He lived it. Our entire country rooted for them to flourish together. It was a one-two punch that any organization would build around...
I'd like to express my condolences to the Taveras family as well as the Arvelo family. In memory of Oscar, I'll be wearing a "RIP OT" on my glove for the rest of my professional baseball career. I love you, brother. Dominican Republic, St. Louis, and baseball will always remember you. RIP El Fenomeno.
Rob Kaminsky, LHP
I met Oscar my first year in pro ball. I was in the GCL, and he came down to Florida for rehab. First time I met him, he introduced himself and asked about me. Every day we saw each other, talked, and I continued to learn more and more about the game from OT. You would have never been able to tell he was a top prospect in baseball. No ego, no arrogance, strictly just a good person. He made sure me and the other rookies were comfortable, and that's something I'll take with me for my entire career. In the time I knew him, I never saw him upset or angry. He always had that big smile on his face because he was doing what he truly loved, and that was playing baseball. Oscar, may you rest in peace, my friend. Thank you for all you taught me, and all you showed me, through leading by example. RIP OT.
Anthony Ray, OF
I had a couple of great memories with OT. When I started with the Cardinals, everybody told me about Oscar Taveras, the best hitter in the minor leagues. During my first year in the GCL, I got a chance to meet him when he was rehabbing. We introduced ourselves and we clicked right away. I still remember the time when I was walking through the hotel and I saw him in his room, so I went through the grass outside and jumped on the balcony into his room. He was like, "What's up, Papi?" I said, "What up, OT? How is the leg?" He said, "Good. It feels much better." Oscar was sitting down playing Dragon Ball Z on the PS3. It was pretty cool because we got to talking about all the characters on the TV Show. I said to myself, "Oscar is a big kid just like me." The next day Oscar came up to me and gave me one of his game-used bats. Oscar was a great person on and off the field. I look up to him. He will be missed. Love you, OT.
There is a lot I remember personally about my close friend and teammate Oscar Taveras. He wasn’t just a phenomenal player, he was a phenomenal person. Remembering the times we would hit in the cages together, and he’d help me with things pertaining to my swing to ensure I can be the best player I could be. That’s one of the many things I loved, missed, and will always remember about Oscar Taveras. Great friend and teammate. Love you, OT. Miss you, man.
Malik Collymore, 2B
Oscar was a player that all us young guys wanted to be like. He was a great talent, but along with that, he was also a great guy to have around the clubhouse. During the short time I knew him while he was on rehab in Florida, he always had a smile on his face and a presence that made everyone around him comfortable. We would watch him take batting practice, and I would think to myself that the ball just jumped off the bat differently when he made contact. Oscar's passing surely is a heartbreaking and crushing blow to both his family as well as the Cardinal Nation because he had such a promising career ahead of him. He will truly be missed, and I know all members of the St. Louis Cardinals organization will play this upcoming season with him in our thoughts.
Sam Tuivailala, RHP
Oscar was a great competitor who had so much potential to do some great things, but more importantly, he was a great guy who was always smiling and enjoying life. We will truly miss seeing him.
Kurt Heyer, RHP
Even though Oscar and I never really knew each other personally, we both spoke the language of baseball. I was fortunate enough to have my locker next to his in big league camp this year. I knew right away that he was going to be special. His actions spoke louder than words. He demonstrated what it meant to be a Cardinal. When I got called up to AAA this season, he was the first one to shake my hand to congratulate me. It was an honor to play with him even if it was only 3 weeks. I only hope he continues to be who he was in heaven.
Oscar Mercado, SS
Oscar was a great player and an even better person. My first year, while he was rehabbing down in Florida, he really welcomed me. He always made me laugh about the fact that we were the only Oscars. He will be greatly missed.
Jordan Swagerty, RHP
Oscar was such a remarkable baseball player, but an even better person. I will miss his joking around in the clubhouse and his passion for the game. Such a sad loss.
Charlie Tilson, OF
My first Spring Training, I had a locker next to Oscar. We had a running joke of coming back and seeing who had more hits on our respective fields. Some days I'd come back almost sure I had him beat. More often than not, I'd find out from his big smile that I was wrong. He was incredible. We all looked up to Oscar. Not just for his ability but his passion for the game. He'll be truly missed by all his teammates. RIP OT.
Amazing. Good. Great (x 3). Phenomenal. Better. These are all words that could very easily describe who Oscar was as a baseball player. We all knew that by now. However, all five of them were used in a much different context here. All five of them were used to describe who Oscar was as a person, as a friend, as a teammate, and as a mentor. Oscar was much more than just a baseball player, and we were truly blessed to have him in the Cardinals organization.
Rest in peace, Oscar.