by Lauren Redfern
José Fernández was a name the game of baseball loved. Fernández was a starting pitcher for the Miami Marlins. He was in his third year with the team. He was not only a Marlin but also a Cuban. He was proud of his ethnicity but did not just walk into America. Fernández escaped Cuba after many tries. When he succeeded, his whole life changed and it was for the better. He was rookie of the year in his first year in the MLB, and continued to amaze the country and the city of Miami. In the early hours of the morning of September 25, a boat was found outside the Miami Harbor. Police reported that three bodies were found dead. One of whom was the 24-year-old baseball player.
Fernández was a leader of the city, not just the Marlins. That day, the Marlins organization cancelled their late afternoon game against the Atlanta Braves. September 26, the team took the field without one important player. Fernández was scheduled to take his start that evening on the mound. Instead, the number 16 was drawn on the mound. Every Marlins player wore the number 16 in their teammate’s honor.
Many tears were shed that evening, but one moment was set apart from the rest. Teammate Dee Gordon, leadoff batter, is a left handed hitter. That evening he entered the right-handed box wearing Fernández’s batting helmet. After taking the first pitch as a strike, Gordon exchanged the helmet for his own and stepped into the left hand batter box. The second pitch came and Gordon sent the ball flying over the wall, tallying a home run. His first-ever home run, he touched home plate and immediately pointed up to the sky with tears. Later in a news conference, Gordon said this moment was the “thing” the city needed.
Fernández’s death was a shock to many. He left behind an organization, a city, and a family including his girlfriend who is pregnant with their daughter. In a CNN article, former MLB pitcher Dan Haren stated: “Jose Fernandez is one of the most genuine guys I’ve ever played with. He loved life, he loved baseball… he will be missed dearly.”