Jose Fernandez: Bigger Than Baseball


By Nicholas Destefano

Tragedy is not a term accustomed so commonly nor easily. Major League Baseball infrequently refers to displays of tragedy as the game of baseball is filled with excitement and ambition. An ordinary Saturday evening in Southern Florida venue the hometown Miami Marlin’s baseball team as the players encountered the streets of Miami. Pitching the next day in his final game of the season against the New York Mets, Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez made a drastic decision to take a cruise on his 30-foot fishing boat outside the Miami Harbor late that night, exorbitantly later crashing into a nearby jetty along with his two friends. Jose Fernandez’s death early morning, September 25th at about 3:00 a.m., redefines the meaning of the word tragedy.

Teammates Giancarlo Stanton, Christian Yelich and Marcell Ozuna convinced the star pitcher the night of his death not to go out on his boat because of choppy waters. Outfielder Giancarlo Stanton expressed Fernandez was stressed and wanted to burn off some steam, insisting he wanted to take his boat out. “Don’t go out, Ozuna told the newspapers. 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.”[1] Fernandez vowed for some of his teammates to attend as well, but no one pursued and he continued on his nightly journey. Giancarlo Stanton that morning waited at the Marlins ball park in the same spot as he always did for Jose to arrive at the stadium. When he received news that morning of his beloved friend’s death, Stanton convincingly thought it was just a ghastly nightmare and everything would go back to normal. Ultimately, Giancarlo had to accept reality and that Jose would never triumph his way to the park again.

Jose Fernandez was just 24 years old and on the verge of becoming an electrifying pitcher with great talent at such a young age. The Miami Marlins drafted Fernandez the 14th overall pick of the 2011 MLB draft and instantly became a sensation for the organization. He won the 2013 NL Rookie of the Year award and finished third in the CY voting at the age of 21[2]. This season, Jose has certified himself as the ace pitcher of the Marlins and again in CY contention with a 16-8 record, 2.86 ERA and over 250 strikeouts with astonishing performances throughout the season. Entering free agency in the upcoming offseason, Fernandez was ensured to sign a record breaking contract.

Jose Fernandez was not just an exceptional baseball player, but an icon both on and off the field impacting the attention of many fans and supporters. Jose played the game of baseball distinctively more creative than the other players around him with his given stature, techniques and velocity. His every movement was passionate, charismatic, embracing the game with emotion and serenity as he stepped foot on the mound. Jose leverage an entire community to join together in conformity to support to Marlin organization and all Miami fans. “When I think about Jose, I see such a little boy. The way he played, there was joy with him.”[3] Manager Don Mattingly exemplifies his star pitcher as he faintly gets the epical words out in a news conference. Jose’s love for the game and competition was resembled in every play. He honored his family before every scheduled appearance, especially his mother and grandmother, with a signal of praise. On Jose’s fourth attempt departing from Cuba, his mother fell off the boat going to Mexico and the 15-year-old Jose dived in the treacherous waters and saved his beloved mother who he continued to admire[4]. Jose’s passion and amorousness for the baseball was bigger than his performances.

The world of baseball was heartbroken the day news let out of the passing of Jose Fernandez. The Miami Marlins cancelled the game on Sunday in mourn of their dear friend. Teams around the league represented the young Marlins star with moments of silence, personifying of Fernandez #16 jerseys and prayer. On Monday, the Miami Marlins manifested a pregame ceremony in remembrance of the imperative Jose Fernandez. With the number “16” painted on the pitcher’s mound, the Marlins baseball team met together to pay their respects to Jose while the sobbing crowd sang “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.” Each player on the Marlins wore #16 and the uniform number was retired by the Marlins organization at the end of the night. Fans, friends, family members of Jose vigorously attended the game with a sense of beatification toward Fernandez; none other than his pregnant girlfriend who is expecting a girl in a few months. Jose Fernandez was bigger than baseball, a character who embellished the game and kids of all ages want to play like him. Number “16” left a legacy to inspire people to play with high emotion and intensity, to play every game like it’s your last. Jose Fernandez strived to be the best ball player, practicing and training more impetuously to be successful. Tragedy is appropriate to illustrate the calamitous life events of Jose Fernandez.

[1] Marlins after Fernandez Tragedy: Boat-Driving Doubt, Baby Heartbreak: Mike Puma:

[2] Jose Fernandez’s Story: From Saving Mom’s Life to Electric Fastballs: Joel Sherman:

[3] Jose Fernandez’s Story: From Saving Mom’s Life to Electric Fastballs: Joel Sherman:

[4] Jose Fernandez’s Story: From Saving Mom’s Life to Electric Fastballs: Joel Sherman: