This past weekend baseball lost one of its brightest rising stars. Miami Marlins starting pitcher Jose Fernandez died on September 25. He was just 24 years old.
On his day off, Fernandez went boating with two of his friends, but they would not make it back. Their boat was found wrecked against some rocks and the Marlins’ worst fears were realized. As fate would have it, Fernandez was supposed to pitch on the 25th but the team decided to give him an extra day off and pushed him back one day. This gave him a day to relax and do what he wanted. Many are wondering what would have happened had he not been given an extra day.
Fernandez was already on his way to becoming royalty in baseball despite his young age. He had only completed one full season, in 2013 when he won Rookie of the Year. He tore his UCL the following year and required Tommy John surgery that kept him out until the end of last season. He was in the midst of a stellar year in 2016 that had him in Cy Young discussion.
The MLB collectively mourned Fernandez on the 25th through social media and on-field tributes. The Marlins canceled their game. Other teams had a moment of silence before their games. Many teams put his jersey up in their respective dugouts. There was a somber tone throughout the day.
Everything players and coaches said about him was unbelievably positive. His manager Don Mattingly talked about the joy he brought to the game. He always looked like a little kid on the mound, always excited. He was a positive force in the clubhouse.
Being a Cuban defector, Fernandez had made friends around the league who went through the same journey. One of his biggest was Yasiel Puig of the Los Angeles Dodgers. After a rough year on the job for Puig he said that Fernandez gave him advice on how to better himself.
“He is my friend and now I’ve lost him,” Puig said.
Fernandez’s impact clearly went beyond his actions on the field. Baseball will remember him for not only being a great player, but a great human.
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