Tragedy has struck the world of Major League Baseball as one of its rising stars Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez was killed in a boating accident. Fernandez was only 24 and in the prime of his career. I had only seen him pitch a few games, but he obviously had the talent.
A career cut far too short.
It’s a shame Fernandez’s career was cut short. He had recovered nicely from Tommy John surgery and looked ready for a stellar career. The effort and love he showed for baseball rubbed off on everyone he met.
I loved this quote I heard from the Cardinals’ Bryan Pena. He says about how Fernandez declared that one day, Pena would be president of Cuba. Pena’s reply: The only way that could happen is if Jose ran alongside him. You have to love that don’t you? Cubs manager Joe Maddon even spoke about the first pitch he saw Fernandez throw in a game, the conviction and the delivery so unique that he turned to a coach and remarked about how special Fernandez was, after that sample size of one pitch. Maddon knows his stuff my friends and he knew how special Fernandez was.
Pena would be president of Cuba with Fernandez as vice-president.
This other quote by Nick Markakis seems to sum up Jose in a nutshell. Markakis said he will always be able to tell his children and grandchildren about, how in the final days of his life, Fernandez — who seemed to have more fun than anybody playing the game he loved — turned a moment of violence on the field into an effort at understanding. On Sept. 14 Fernandez was pitching against the Braves, and after he had plunked Markakis with a pitch, Braves pitcher Jose Ramirez threw a pitch near the head of Fernandez, in apparent retaliation. What happened after that is priceless.
Fernandez ducked under Ramirez’s fastball and got off the ground furious about the pitch, for which Ramirez was ejected, and the benches emptied, but as the players from both teams stared and pushed against each other, Markakis circled toward Fernandez, who wasn’t looking to fight; he was looking to reason with the Braves. Dee Gordon stood in front of Fernandez, poised to hold him back, but on the tape, you can see Fernandez tell Gordon that he’s cool and calm.
“Come here,” he says to Markakis, and the two come together, just to talk.
The brawl that wasn’t.
About 70 seconds into this clip I saw, you can hear him on the field microphones yelling to the Braves’ players about 70 seconds that he understood why Ramirez threw at him — “I don’t mind!” he says repeatedly — but adds: “Don’t throw at the head.”
Fernandez obviously knew the situation and was OK with it. You see ,that is who Jose Fernandez was, a young man whose happiness in all aspects of life made what he did so apparent that it seemed OK, affecting those around him: teammates, opponents, fans, reporters, everybody. His smile and sense of humor was infectious as well.
I tuned in to see the game last night and what I saw was extraordinary. Watching his teammates wear his #16 jersey and gathering at the mound broke my heart. Dee Gordon hit a lead off home run and was in tears rounding the bases. If that doesn’t bring you to tears I don’t know what will. How they were able to play that game was a miracle in itself. It reminded me of when Therman Munson died and the Yankees had to play after that tragedy as well.
Gordon did it for his fallen teammate and friend.
Jose Fernandez was what was great for the game. An immigrant from Cuba who wanted to show the world what he can do.He wanted to live the American dream. For a far too short time he did. He gave everything he had to the sport of baseball and I hope people and fans will never forget him. I know I won’t.