Two Major League Baseball stars have been killed in separate car crashes in Dominican Republic.
Yordano Ventura, a 25-year-old pitcher with Kansas City Royals, died on a road near the town of Juan Adrian – about 40 miles northwest of the capital Santo Domingo.
Former infielder Andy Marte died in a separate crash about 95 miles north of the capital, near the town of Pimentel. Authorities say that he was in a car which hit a house.
Tony Clark, an executive with the baseball players union, said: “We are deeply saddened to learn of the tragic passing of Andy Marte and Yordano Ventura.
“It’s never easy to lose a member of our fraternity, and there are no words to describe the feeling of losing two young men in the prime of their lives.”
Ventura, who was born in Dominican Republic, was nicknamed ‘Ace’.
He left school at age 14 and was working as a labourer on a building site near his Caribbean island home when he heard about a nearby tryout for a Kansas City Royals affiliate team.
That unlikely chance eventually led to a place in one of baseball’s top twenty teams.
Ventura was a part of the Kansas City Royals team that won the 2015 World Series title.
He was considered a fierce competitor and a fans’ favourite.
ACE I love you my brother. I’m in disbelief and don’t know what to say. I love you ACE 🙏🏽 @… https://t.co/ky3lw2eSoh
— Eric Hosmer (@TheRealHos35) 22 January 2017
Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer paid tribute to Ventura on Twitter. He said: “I love you my brother. I’m in disbelief and don’t know what to say. I love you ACE.”
I love you Ace. I don’t know what to say other then I’m going to miss you a lot. RIP ACE.
— Mike Moustakas (@Mooose_8) 22 January 2017
Third baseman Mike Moustakas also expressed disbelief tweeting: “I love you Ace. I don’t know what to say other than I’m going to miss you a lot. RIP ACE.”
In a statement Royals general manager Dayton Moore said: “Our prayers right now are with Yordano’s family as we mourn this young man’s passing.
“He was so young and so talented, full of youthful exuberance and always brought a smile to everyone he interacted with. We will get through this as an organization, but right now is a time to mourn and celebrate the life of Yordano.”
Andy Marte, who was 33, was also born in Dominican Republic.
During his career as a third baseman he played for a number of teams including Atlanta Braves, Cleveland Indians and Arizona Diamondbacks.
More recently he’d been playing for a team in South Korea.
Sad to learn of Andy Marte’s death this morning. He was a genuine person who always greeted you with a warm smile.
— Cleveland Indians (@Indians) 22 January 2017
His former team, Cleveland Indians, tweeted a tribute describing him as a genuine person with a warm smile.