Octavio Antonio Fernández Castro (born June 30, 1962), better known as Tony Fernández, is a former Dominican Major League Baseball player most noted for his defensive skills, setting a nine-year record for shortstops with a .992 fielding percentage in 1989, and a still active single-season fielding percentage record for third basemen with .991 in 1994.
|Born: June 30, 1962|
San Pedro de Macorís, Dominican Republic
|September 2, 1983, for the Toronto Blue Jays|
|Last MLB appearance|
|October 7, 2001, for the Toronto Blue Jays|
|Runs batted in||844|
|Career highlights and awards|
Fernández was first scouted by the Toronto Blue Jays' famed Latin America scout Epy Guerrero and was signed as an undrafted free agent in 1979. Promoted to the Blue Jays in 1983, Fernández became the team's full-time shortstop in 1985, and contributed significantly to the team winning its first division title that year. Fernández continued to star for the Jays for several years afterwards. His 213 hits in 1986 were, at the time, a major league single-season record for a shortstop (the record has since been surpassed).
Before the 1991 season, Fernández was traded to the San Diego Padres in a major deal that also sent Jays star Fred McGriff to San Diego in exchange for Roberto Alomar and Joe Carter. Fernández played well for San Diego for two years and then began the 1993 season with the New York Mets. After a disappointing start, he was traded back to the Blue Jays. He played well for the remainder of the season and was instrumental in helping the Blue Jays win the 1993 World Series. In that World Series, Fernández drove in nine runs, a record for a shortstop.
In 1997, he reached the World Series again, with the Cleveland Indians, thanks in large part to his own game-winning home run against Baltimore in the American League Championship Series. This is the only 1-0 game in postseason history where the run was an extra-innings home run. Playing at second base, he committed an error in the bottom of the 11th inning in Game 7 of the World Series; this broke up a potential double play, and the eventual World Series-winning run was put on base. He hit a two-run single in the top of the third inning for the Indians' only runs of the game, and would have been credited with the Series-winning hit for Cleveland had they won the game.
In 1998, he rejoined the Blue Jays, and revitalized his hitting, batting over .300 in two seasons there. In 2000, Fernández played for the Seibu Lions in Japan before returning to the majors the following year. When he returned in 2001, he briefly played for the Milwaukee Brewers but returned to Toronto late in the season, and retired at its conclusion.
A very thin man, Fernández had a tilted, wavering batting stance that made it appear as if he might not be strong enough to hold his bat. From early in his career he carried a scar on his right cheek from a pitched ball. Fernández was a noted fitness fanatic; he liked buying unusual home exercise machines and trying them out in the clubhouse.
Early in his career, Fernández was well known for his exceptional defensive skills at shortstop, and was described by Ivan Maisel in a Sports Illustrated article as having "the range of a Texas cattleman". He was especially famous for leaping into the air while simultaneously making an underhanded throw to first base, on balls hit far to his right.
Fernández was awarded four consecutive Gold Glove Awards for his defense, from 1986 to 1989. Fernández was also named to five All-Star teams. He finished his career with a .288 batting average in 2,158 games played, and batted .327 in postseason play. Fernandez hit for the cycle as a New York Yankee on September 3, 1995 playing against the Oakland Athletics.
On October 17, 2016, Fernandez was inducted into the Ontario Sports Hall of Fame at the Sheraton Centre Toronto Hotel, where he thanked the fans in Toronto, Ontario and in Canada for embracing him.
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