Mario Encarnacion Dead at 30
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| By finleyshero on Thursday, October 06, 2005 - 01:48 pm:|
Encarnacion displayed brilliant skills when he played for the Rivercats. This is truly a tragedy...
(User name & Password = Flipper)
| By oaktownfan on Thursday, October 06, 2005 - 01:54 pm:|
Sad to see.
This guy was supposed to be the next great domincan player the A's had after Tejada and he never lived up to his potential.
Truly sad situation.
| By diamond_lil on Thursday, October 06, 2005 - 02:13 pm:|
Oh how sad... I remember watching him at ST and later meeting him back at the hotel. He looked then like he was a sure superstar in the making.
He was also one of the Dominicans who got caught with the age discreptancy when he had to
apply for the visa. I think he was almost 3 years older than originally thought.
Heartbreaking and tragic story.
| By ronc on Thursday, October 06, 2005 - 02:38 pm:|
It's tragic. I remember talking to Mario with Lil in the hotel bar for about 30 minutes at Spring Training. The story states he had problem with English, not so when we talked to him. He spoke English a lot better than Miggy and Ramon. He was the rf on that terrific AAA team that included Zito, Mulder, Long and Piatt.
| By diamond_lil on Thursday, October 06, 2005 - 02:47 pm:|
Ron, you're absolutely correct about his English.
He was articulate and very in command of the language. I also remember how Rafael Bournigal ( think it was him) came to usher the youngsters out of the hotel bar. I remember Velandia was there and they talked about how they all played soccer together with a brazilian pitcher Jose Pett.
| By rayfossefan on Thursday, October 06, 2005 - 02:49 pm:|
I posted the article, newspaper logins annoy me. Truly tragic.
Marcos Bretón: The lonely death of Mario Encarnacíon
A gentle soul dies in world far away
By Marcos Bretón -- Bee Sports Columnist
Published 2:15 am PDT Thursday, October 6, 2005
Story appeared in Sports section, Page C1
This is lovingly dedicated to Mario Encarnacíon, an original River Cat and once-highly rated A's prospect who died tragically, a world away.
Some of us learned only Wednesday that Mario had died, at 30, in Taiwan, where he was playing baseball.
According to the Taipei Times, his body was found in his Taipei County apartment by officials with the Macoto Cobras of the Chinese Professional Baseball League.
Mario missed Monday's practice, only to be discovered on his bed - the air conditioner and TV on, his refrigerator open.
Pending an autopsy, the cause of death is unknown, though Chinese media reported that Mario flunked a steroids test in May, for which he was suspended two weeks.
It was also reported that he had an acute case of gastroenteritis, which was causing him great discomfort.
"I don't know how to put this into words," former River Cats general manager Gary Arthur said. "In 16 years of working in Triple-A baseball, Mario was right at the top. There was just something about him."
Call it humanity.
Mario wasn't a warped athlete like we've come to expect in most ballplayers. He was big-hearted, fun-loving, a good friend.
You loved him for who he was, not the player he was supposed to be - the superstar-in-training - once thought by the A's to be better than now-superstar Miguel Tejada.
Sadly, Mario's can't-miss trajectory veered toward a darker place that ended in a seemingly unnecessary and preventable death.
I grieve for him, his wife, his baby son who will never know him, and his mother who at this moment is experiencing anguish no mother should.
I can close my eyes and remember the strapping kid with the heart-scraping smile who, in the spring of 1996, was The Man among A's prospects.
At 6-foot-2, Mario had the loping stride of a powerful gazelle. And when he connected with a pitch, the crack of the bat would send the ball on a scalding line toward the place heroes launch moon shots.
You couldn't help but root for him.
He was fatherless, an uneasy target for young women looking for a rich husband and hustlers looking for a pigeon. His first steps on his journey were in Grand Rapids, Mich., in the steely cold of spring, where this kid from the tropics played in snow flurries and ice storms.
He cried for his mother then, stood up to American players mocking his English, challenged anyone to fight him for control of the clubhouse stereo.
What a sight he was: both beautiful and sad. When he ran the outfield, he was pure big-league. When he batted, he was putty in the hands of pitchers throwing breaking balls in the dirt - which he couldn't resist.
Unlike Tejada, who had a steel spine and ruled his emotions, Mario was a gentle soul who took baseball's punishment to heart. The pressure of succeeding and lifting his family out of poverty was a weight that soon stooped his massive shoulders.
Yet Mario was loved in Grand Rapids. "He was a big teddy bear with lots of love to share," Brenda Karsies, a diehard fan whose family houses Dominican players each year, said Wednesday.
He was loved in Modesto, where in 1997, Mario befriended a Modesto A's fan named Jeff Plaster, who had lost his own son in a motorcycle accident and came to view Mario as a surrogate son to ease his pain.
"He would just make me feel better. He would give me great advice about getting on with my life," Plaster told me in 2001.
Others remember the River Cat who always made his teammates laugh. "He had an infectious personality," said Mike Gazda, formerly the River Cats' director of media relations who now works with the Florida Marlins. "I can still picture the smile he had on the baseball field. He loved the game."
He did, maybe too much. When Mario's body sustained numerous injuries, he watched with anger as lesser talents such as Eric Byrnes got promoted over him. "His behavior changed," Arthur said. "He really wasn't the same when he was traded to Colorado (by the A's in 2001)."
I drove Mario to the airport that day, feeling sad and guilty, because I suspected he wouldn't reach the bigs.
He had the skills but lacked Tejada's focus and drive, was vulnerable and too sensitive for his own good.
"Something has gone wrong with taking this young man out of the Dominican Republic," Arthur said. "I'm frustrated, I'm angry, I'm sad. Somehow, I feel partly responsible, you know?"
He's not the only one.
The last time I saw Mario, in 2003, his struggles became my column fodder. He was with the Montreal Expos' organization, after being cut loose by the A's, Colorado and the Chicago Cubs. Rock-bottom in Taiwan awaited, and all I could do was buy him lunch at Centro Cocina Mexicana and interview him.
I should have confronted him about steroids as other friends did, should have thrown his denials back in his face.
Who knows? Maybe gastroenteritis did kill him, or maybe something else happened. Or maybe, just maybe, he hadn't learned from that positive test in May and played Russian Roulette minus the help of high-priced chemists.
We won't know for a while, and maybe we'll never know.
Meanwhile, I remember him hugging me goodbye as he left for Colorado, giving me one of his bats.
"For old-times sake," he said smiling at me. "Thanks for being my friend, Marcos."
Some friend. I should have put my stupid notebook down and told Mario that I loved him, always will.
All that's left now are the tears.
About the writer:
Reach Marcos Bretón at (916) 321-1096 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Back columns, www.sacbee.com/breton
| By eyleenn on Thursday, October 06, 2005 - 02:53 pm:|
That is just heartbreaking.
| By finleyshero on Thursday, October 06, 2005 - 03:16 pm:|
Here's more from the Taiwan press. Apparently he had been very sick with a stomach ailment, but had also been playing very well...
| By raiderjohn on Thursday, October 06, 2005 - 03:28 pm:|
| By kevink on Thursday, October 06, 2005 - 04:22 pm:|
This is really sad.
anyone else see the part about him being angry over byrnes getting the call over him? I'll bet this lead him to take roids and now he's dead because of it. Terrible.
| By diamond_lil on Thursday, October 06, 2005 - 06:05 pm:|
The tragic irony and the disgusting double standard in MLB... how can that scumbag Donald Fehr and Bud Selig sleep at night knowing they
are not doing what it takes to free this game from this plague like the Olympians have done...
Mario dies from what appears to be side effects from the use of steroids because he didn't have the resources to be properly diagnosed and treated in time...while Giambi gets an award for comeback player of the year after undergoing
treatment what probably includes the use of hormones to give him back the strength he had
lost while overdosing the same stuff that killed Mario.
| By okplayer on Thursday, October 06, 2005 - 07:26 pm:|
great post lil. R.I.P. mario. this giambi deal is sickening and fehr is a scumbag.
| By rocket on Thursday, October 06, 2005 - 07:43 pm:|
Geeze, very sad indeed. I saw him play in Modesto, and indeed the ball jumped off his bat.
The crack off the bat boomed around the small
| By oaktownfan on Thursday, October 06, 2005 - 09:09 pm:|
Good thing there's a new roid policy in the minors and they caught Javier Herrera "using roids" or he might've suffered the same fate.
I guess when you come from such a impoverish background, you'd do mostly everything to get into the majors and earn millions.
Love to see Herrera be the next Tejada for the A's.