Marlins Mourn Fernandez

Posted on October 17, 2016 by

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Many across the baseball world have been mourning the death of Miami Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez, who was tragically killed early Sunday morning, October 2. He and two friends perished after their fishing boat crashed into a rock off Miami Beach around 3:15 a.m.

Fernandez, 24, was one of the game’s bright young stars and had already fought through so much diversity to become one of the best pitchers in the game. Jose and his family defected from Cuba when he was fifteen-years-old and settled in Miami.

Fernandez was a first round draft pick by the Marlins in 2011 and quickly rose through the minor league ranks to make his MLB debut in 2013 at nineteen-years-old. That year, he won National League Rookie of the Year.

However, just a few games into the 2014 season, Fernandez tore the ulnar collateral ligament in his pitching elbow, an injury that would require Tommy John surgery and Fernandez to miss over a year of baseball.

Fernandez dealt with a few other minor injuries before finally having a full season this year. He blossomed and was in the running for the National League Young award as the league’s top pitcher.

While Fernandez will be remembered for his prodigal talent on the field, perhaps his greatest legacy will be his infectious personality off the field. Fernandez was considered the quintessential teammate; he was a leader with tremendous work ethic, but he was always interacting with teammates and coaches and brought positive energy to the Marlins clubhouse on a daily basis.

One of the things that made him remarkable was his game day preparation. Most starting pitchers, on the day that they pitch, seclude themselves in order to mentally prepare for the game. Fernandez, on the other hand, would be out taking part in the rest of the team’s pregame warm-ups, chatting it up with whoever was around. He made a point to talk to every player and coach every day, and his infectious smile and joyous personality were second to none.

The Marlins were scheduled to play the day that Fernandez died. Their game for that day was cancelled, but they returned the next day to take on the New York Mets at Marlins Park in Miami. Prior to the game, a ceremony was held on the field, including a moment of silence, a video tribute, and a solemn trumpet rendition of “Take Me Out to The Ballgame.”

Both Marlins and Mets players shared embraces before they took their sides for the game. Second baseman Dee Gordon took the first at bat for the Marlins in the bottom of the first, and the left-handed batter took the first pitch in the right handed batter’s box wearing Fernandez’s helmet. He then moved to the left side, and promptly hit an upper deck home run.

Gordon, who was one of the most emotional players after learning of Fernandez’s death, broke out in tears as he rounded the bases on his first home run in over a year. The Marlins continued to play inspired baseball and won the game 9-3. However, another amazing moment wouldn’t take place until the next night.

St. Louis Cardinals shortstop Aledmys Diaz was a childhood friend of Fernandez’s in Cuba. In the Cardinals’ game Tuesday, Diaz came to bat late in the game with the bases loaded. He launched a go-ahead grand slam to help lift the Cardinals to a win. After Diaz went into the dugout, the crowd’s cheers coaxed Diaz out of the dugout for an emotional curtain call.

Memorial services were held over the next few days in Miami, and the Marlins also plan to retire Fernandez’s No. 16.

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