September 25, 2016. That was the day baseball changed. Jose Fernandez and his spirit for the game was taken from us in a tragic boat accident at approximately 3 o’clock AM.
The 24-year old Fernandez was an inspiration to the game of baseball. He was just getting his family started, his girlfriend is currently pregnant. Only 9 days ago he posted a picture of his pregnant girlfriend on Instagram with the caption, “I’m so glad you came into my life. I’m ready for where this journey is gonna take us together. #familyfirst”. This whole situation is beyond sad, and goes further than baseball. Jose Fernandez not only had a mutual love with his girlfriend and the game of baseball, but also with his teammates.
Miami Marlins outfielder and fellow friend of Jose’s, Marcell Ozuna, declined an invitation to join Jose on the boat the night of his tragic death. Ozuna very well might’ve died that night also, he said “That night I told him, ‘Don’t go out’…Everybody knew he was crazy about that boat and loved being out on the water. I told him I couldn’t go out that night because I had the kids and my wife waiting for me”.
Another Marlins player and one of Fernandez’s best friends in life, Dee Gordon, paid one of the best tributes anyone could do. Batting leadoff for the Marlins on September 26th, Gordon stepped in the right-handed batter’s box, even though he was a lefty. He was wearing Fernandez’s helmet and took the first pitch righty in his honor. The next pitch he switched over to the left-handed batter’s box. For those who don’t know Dee Gordon is not a power hitter by any means. In fact, before this at bat he only had seven home runs in over 2,000 games, including zero this season. Bartolo Colon of the New York Mets delivered the 1-0 pitch. Dee Gordon hit the ball to the right field upper deck, for his 1st home run of the season, and 8th of his career. As one of the leaders of the Miami squad, he said to the team, “I ain’t ever hit a ball that far, even in BP. I told the boys, ‘If you all don’t believe in God, you better start.’ For that to happen today, we had some help.”
Fernandez was loved by the whole entire Miami organization. Not only was he loved by Miami, but by players all around the league. The St. Louis Cardinals were in Cincinnati for a game against the Reds. Aledmys Diaz, who has spent the last few days grieving the loss of his ‘brother’, Jose Fernandez. They grew up together in Santa Clara, Cuba. The Cardinals were trailing 2-1 in the top of the fourth inning. Diaz hits a grand slam, the first of his career. He dedicated the home run to Fernandez by pointing up to the sky rounding the bases.
Teams around the league honored Fernandez by writing things such as “RIP JF” on their hats and hanging up the #16 Hernandez jersey in their respective dugouts. Fernandez is still in the conversation for the NL Cy Young Award for this year, posting a 16-8 record with a 2.86 ERA and 1.12 WHIP. Fernandez has impacted the game in so many powerful ways, and his legacy will never be forgotten.