Gerard Dalton, 80, chats with retired baseball star and former Toronto Blue Jay Tony Fernández during a visit at the Prince County Hospital Wednesday. Photo submitted by Adam Binkley
SUMMERSIDE – Gerard Dalton just about fell off his chair Wednesday when Tony Fernández walked through the door.
Gerard, 80, was sitting in a chair in his room at the Prince County Hospital at the time and his son John Dalton had just come in to say hello.
John had a sleeve of golf balls in his hand, so thinking they were a gift the elder Dalton remarked that he wouldn’t be able to use them anymore.
“Nah, Dad. I got you something even better. I got you a Blue Jay. Come on in Tony,” said John.
In walks Fernández, who was in town for the Summerside Boys and Girls Club Celebrity Golf Tournament.
The Dominican Republic native is a five-time Major League Baseball (MLB) all-star and winner of four consecutive Gold Gloves from 1986 to 89. He broke into MLB in 1983 with the Toronto Blue Jays, the same team he retired with in 2001. He also played with the San Diego Padres, New York Mets, Cincinnati Reds, New York Yankees, Cleveland Indians and Milwaukee Brewers.
Gerard has been a baseball fan his whole life and has been following the Blue Jay’s religiously since the team was founded.
Getting to meet Fernández, whom he describes as a “smooth” ballplayer, was a real treat.
“It was really good. We had a nice chat and it kind of gave me a boost. Biggest surprise I’ve had in a long time,” said Gerard, who went home from the hospital on Thursday.
“I’m awful glad to have met him, it was a great experience,” he said.
“My dad gave him a hug when he left. I’m 47 and I don’t think I’ve seen my father give anybody a hug,” joked his son.
John, who works with APM in Halifax, was on Fernández’s golf team for the day when a sudden downpour caused a delay in play.
John asked if Fernández wouldn’t mind slipping out for a few minutes to visit his father and the ballplayer cheerfully agreed.
They had a great visit, said John, talking about Fernández’s hometown and all things baseball.
Fernández, who became a minister after his retirement from sport, also made time pray with the family for Gerard’s health.
“It was just a touching visit and the doctors even said this morning that it really bolstered his spirits,” said John.
“It just really speaks to Tony Fernández and the type of person he is. I couldn’t have happier with how it turned out.”