At the tender age of 17 Carlos Fortuna already had the eye of Major League Baseball scouts. The Dominican Republic native had a quick fastball and good curve that was very impressive by age 19 in the Kansas City Royals. He had it all at his fingertips until he came down with an aggressive form of cancer. Though he fought the battle with cancer for three long years like a champion of champions, Fortuna lost the battle this past Sunday in the Dominican Republic.
Like so many young people that have misfortune grace their lives, Fortuna had a way of teaching those around him how to live even as he battled with death itself. You hear phrases that include the words smile and love a lot when people that knew Fortuna talk about him. His former teammates speak highly of his abilities but mostly of the way he carried himself.
One story in particular stands out where he was out in the bullpen with the other relief pitchers on a bitterly cold day early in the season. By this time Fortuna was already feeling pretty bad so you might think that he hated being out in the elements. Actually while the major leaguers were belly aching about having to play in such cold weather, Fortuna was ecstatic about what he called one of the best games ever.
The lesson in that moment and the others you can read about with Fortuna all speak to the same truth. Sometimes in this life we aren’t going to win. For the Royals, sometimes in the game of baseball they aren’t going to win. But just like in Fortuna’s battle with cancer, it isn’t about whether you win or lose the battle. In baseball and in life, it really is only about how you play the game.