Current, Former Major Leaguers Die in Dominican Crashes
Kansas City Royals starting pitcher Yordano Ventura throws during the first inning of a baseball game against the Texas Rangers in Arlington, Texas, in this file photo. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic—Kansas City Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura and former major leaguer Andy Marte died in separate traffic accidents early Sunday in their native Dominican Republic.
Highway patrol spokesman Jacobo Mateo said Ventura died on a highway leading to the town of Juan Adrian, about 40 miles (70 kilometers) northwest of Santo Domingo. It was not clear if Ventura was driving.
Metropolitan traffic authorities say Marte died when the Mercedes Benz he was driving hit a house along a road between San Francisco de Macoris and Pimentel, about 95 miles (150 kilometers) north of the capital.
Ventura, 25, burst onto the baseball scene with a 100 mph fastball and an explosive attitude to match. He was a fierce competitor always willing to challenge hitters inside, then deal with the ramifications when they decided to charge the mound.
He went 14-10 with a 3.20 ERA in 2014, his first full season in the big leagues, and helped the long-downtrodden Royals reach the World Series for the first time since 1985. He proceeded to dominate San Francisco in both of his starts, though the Royals would ultimately lose in seven games.
Marte, a 33-year-old infielder, played in the Major Leagues from 2005-2010 with Atlanta and Cleveland and returned in 2014 with Arizona. He hit .218 with 21 home runs and 99 RBIs in the big leagues. He spent the last two seasons in South Korea, where he hit 22 homers last year.
Both Ventura and Marte were part of the Dominican winter league team Aguilas Cibaenas, though neither was playing this season.
“We have awoken this Sunday with this sad news that we have lost a special being,” club president Winston Llenas said in a statement about Marte that was issued before Ventura’s death became known.
Two other active Dominican baseball players have died on the country’s dangerous highways in recent years.
St. Louis Cardinal outfielder Oscar Taveras died in 2014 when he crashed in his hometown of Puerto Plata. He was 22. Shortstop Andujar Cedeno died at age 31 in a 2000 crash in the city of La Romana.
A 2015 study by the World Health Organization found that the Dominican Republic had the highest traffic accident death rate in the Americas, with a rate of 29.3 per 100,000 inhabitants.