Florida Marlins star pitcher 24-year-old Jose Fernandez and two others tragically died early Sunday morning after a boating incident off the coast of Miami beach, making Sunday quite an emotional day on the baseball diamond.
Players, writers, announcers and fans were paying tribute to Fernandez, remembering him for his genuine love of the game and youthful exuberance. One notable gesture came from Yasiel Puig, who hung a Fernandez jersey in the Dodger dugout.
Fernandez, like Puig, famously defected from Cuba in pursuit of a better life in America. Puig told MLB.com:
“He was one of the first people I knew here and I was thinking just a couple of weeks ago we were having dinner in Miami. He was a very good guy and I also liked the way he played baseball, the way he treated his mom, his grandma, his teammates and other ballplayers like myself.”
As some fans pointed out, Fernandez was the living embodiment of the American dream.
At the age of 15, he set off on the treacherous journey to America, in search of a better life. Tragedy nearly struck then – it was the middle of the night when suddenly the water crashed over the boat, tossing his mother into the unforgiving ocean. The selfless action he took that night to save his mother’s life, despite the ‘stupid big’ waves, speaks volumes of his character.
— Joon Lee (@iamjoonlee) September 25, 2016
Florida Marlins president David Samson held a press conference to address the public just one day after Fernandez glowingly spoke of the organization’s bright future. Fernandez had said:
“I feel like we are becoming a family. It’s nice to watch. It’s beautiful to see. Guys having each others’ back, even in the dugout or in [the clubhouse] or when we’re working out.
“Through the whole time, it can get tough because it’s such a long season. I’m really happy that I’m around all these guys.”
Samson told press:
“There’s no words of consolation that come to mind. There’s prayer, there’s thought towards his family, towards his soon to be born daughter. We recognize how precious life is. How taking things for granted is a fool man’s game.”