It’s been about 12 hours since I first learned of the shocking death of Miami Marlins superstar pitcher Jose Fernandez this morning, and it’s still hard to even fathom what happened. Fernandez, and two of his friends, passed away this morning after a horrific boating crash off the coast of Florida. The news sent shock waves throughout the baseball community and prompted Miami to immediately cancel today’s game against the Braves.
Fernandez made his major league debut for the Marlins in 2013, and went on to be an All-Star and win NL Rookie of the Year that season with a 12-6 record and 2.19 ERA. Over his four year career, he went 38-17 with a 2.58 ERA while being one of the most exciting pitchers to watch in the game and helping revitalize a Marlins franchise that had become irrelevant for over a decade. There is no doubt that Fernandez was going to be one the best pitchers in the game for the next 10-15 years and headed toward multiple Cy Youngs and a Hall of Fame career.
It’s devastating enough that a 24 year old superstar with so much promise and potential suddenly lost his life, but the story behind Fernandez and how he arrived in the U.S. from Cuba makes his passing that much more tragic. Jose defected from Cuba at the age of 15 along with his mother and several others. He left his grandmother behind, who he was extremely close with and who was his biggest fan from a baseball perspective. While en route from Cuba to the U.S., he saved his mother’s life who had fallen overboard without even knowing who had fallen overboard when he dove in. He was rewarded several years later when the Marlins arranged for his grandmother to come to the U.S. on a two year visa and she was able to see him pitch on opening day in 2014.
In case this story wasn’t sad enough, Fernandez announced just last week on Instagram that his girlfriend was pregnant with their first child.
Finally, the outpouring of love and support from other Major League Baseball players shows just how much Jose Fernandez was well-liked and well-respected by his peers. Sometimes life isn’t fair, and the tragic events that took place this morning will hurt for a long time. This young man should have had an outstanding career and an even better life with his family in the United States of America. The world lost an amazing athlete today, but even more importantly it lost a great human being.