The baseball world woke up absolutely stunned on September 25, 2016 and it will forever go down as one of the saddest days in baseball history. One of the games most beloved stars, Jose Fernandez of the Miami Marlins, passed away early Sunday morning in a boating accident. Fernandez, 24, and two other men were found dead after their boat was discovered by Coast Guard personnel out on patrol upside down on the north end of a rocky jetty in the Miami Harbor, at roughly 3:15 a.m.
The Marlins released this statement after the tragic loss of their ace, “The Miami Marlins organization is devastated by the tragic loss of José Fernandez. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this very difficult time.”
Commissioner Rob Manfred would release his statement on the tragedy shortly after. “All of baseball is shocked and saddened by the sudden passing of Miami Marlins pitcher José Fernandez. He was one of our game’s great young stars who made a dramatic impact on and off the field since his debut in 2013. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, the Miami Marlins organization and all of the people he touched in his life.”
Fernandez was an absolute stud putting up a career 2.58 ERA with a 38-17 record. He was a two time All-Star and the NL Rookie of the Year. He served as the fuel and heart of the Miami Marlins. He was the fierce fighter that would put his soul into each game he played. But beyond that he was the happiest ballplayer on the field, and he loved the game more than many ever will.
In my eyes, Fernandez is this generation’s Roberto Clemente. I hope to see Manfred and the rest of baseball to come together and create an award in honor of Mr. Fernandez. He was “going for ice cream with the team after a little league win” embodied in a person. He smiled and enjoyed every second of the game. He did it all for the love of the game.
But Fernandez was more than an incredible athlete; he was a son, grandson, brother and friend. José Fernandez grew up in Santa Clara, Cuba. Ramón Jiménez, Fernandez’s stepfather, defected from Cuba in 2005. Fernandez attempted to defect unsuccessfully three times, with each failed defection attempt followed by a prison term. But in 2007, Fernandez defected with his mother and sister.
During that attempt, José’s true character would show. Even though he was only 15 years old, he had a huge and selfless heart. His mother fell overboard when the boat hit turbulent waters, and before realizing it was his mother, José had already dove into the water to save whoever had fallen. Jose Fernandez was a hero.
On September 20th, he announced he would be a father. All our prayers go out to the Fernandez family, including his girlfriend, Carla Mendoza. Fernandez will forever be remembered as a future legend, but an even greater man. Thank you Jose for all the memories you’ve left us with. Gone, but never forgotten. Baseball fans across the nation will hold you in our hearts forever.
Steven Cardona is a Senior Editor for Legends on Deck® and Legends on Deck®enEspañol. He is an undergraduate business student at the University of South Florida who lives in Naples, Florida. He worked with the Fort Myers Miracle in 2014 as a Public Relations intern. In 2016, he continued his work experiences within America’s pastime with the New York Mets as an American Culture Instructor at the Mets Academy in the Dominican Republic. He has an immense passion for the game of baseball and has showcased his love on Legends On Deck.
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