Oscar Taveras: St. Louis Cardinals memorial patch sets off debate


The St. Louis Cardinals memorial patch for late outfielder Oscar Taveras has set off a debate about how to honor him.

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Paul Lukas, sports journalism’s foremost uniform reporter and an ESPN.com columnist since 2004, penned a column on the questions raised about the patch.

"Should a person’s character have any bearing on whether he’s memorialized with a patch? Does the fact that Taveras was only 22 at the time of his death make a difference in this case? Is a memorial patch an endorsement of a person’s entire life or a gesture of mourning?"

I’m not going to get into a debate about how Taveras lived. We all know the story. He had a very high blood alcohol level at the time of his death. Lukas even brings up the JH32 patch that the Cardinals wore following his passing in 2007. Hancock, a relief pitcher, was also drunk at the time of his death in April 2007. He didn’t kill anyone when his car crashed unlike that of the young outfielder.

I don’t see it as an endorsement of his life in as much as I see it as a gesture of mourning Taveras. The Cardinals are also dedicating a baseball field in Taveras’ memory in his native Dominican Republic.

Lukas goes through the backstory of how memorial patches came to be before closing with the following:

"Still, the feeling here is that it’s hard to second-guess the Cardinals on this one. Regardless of the circumstances surrounding Taveras’ death, many people throughout the Cardinals organization knew him, liked him and miss him. The fact that he died due to an irresponsible act — an act that also killed his girlfriend — doesn’t make those people’s sense of loss and grief any less real or legitimate. That’s the real point of a memorial patch: It’s not for the deceased — it’s for those who are left behind."