We don’t do a lot of baseball coverage on the site even though I am a huge fan of the sport but today something horrible happened. Miami Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez is dead. Sometime during the early hours of Sunday, he was out at sea when a boating accident took place. He was 24 years old.
For some reason this feels like a different kind of tragic to me, beyond even normal death of a man, of a sports star. I think it’s because I seemingly saw every moment of his career. I’m not a Marlins fan or anything but I can recall his debut in the pros, the electricity with which he pitched, and the pure joy with how he played the game. He was someone that from day one it was apparent he was special. He suffered an elbow injury, requiring the infamous Tommy John surgery. Some are never quite right when they return, some take time to adjust, but he returned a year later and it was like nothing had happened.
Baseball is a funny sport in that outward shows of emotion and happiness can sometimes be frowned upon. It can be seen as showing up the competition. But he had a way of always smiling that it just seemed like the right thing to do. I’m sure that opposing players were sometimes annoyed but there are also so many instances where they clearly were caught up in his infectious enthusiasm for the game.
Like many from Cuba, his story is so familiar that we forget how amazing it is. It took him four tries to cross literally shark infested waters as he escaped communist Cuba. During his successful journey to America at one point someone fell out of the boat. He jumped in without knowing who it was and pulled them to safety. It was his mother.
Maybe it was the fact that as a young teenager he had already gone through more hardships and difficulties than most of us will ever face that allowed him to play baseball the way it should be plate: as a game.
And as an added, final dagger, just five days ago he had announced his girlfriend was pregnant. Baseball fans lost a generational talent, and this will probably one day become a story told about the great pitcher we never got to see put together a full career, but what’s actually important is that a mother lost a son and a child will never know a man who made sure to enjoy every moment he had during his short stay on this mortal coil.