By Ty Schadt, Staff Writer
The baseball world has been dealing with the loss of Marlins ace Jose Fernandez who recently died in a tragic boating accident.
According to USA Today, at 3:30 a.m. on Sept. 25, a Coast Guard crew found Fernandez’s 32-foot boat, named “Kaught Looking” overturned on a jetty. Chief Nyxolyno Veloz said alcohol is not believed to be a factor in the accident, and no drugs were recovered at the scene. The wreck caused the death of Fernandez, as well as two other passengers.
The career totals for Fernandez’s short time in the MLB were truly phenomenal. Over the course of his 76 starts, the Cuban-American pitcher posted a 38-17 record, 2.58 earned run average (ERA), 1.05 walks plus hits per innings pitched (WHIP), and 589 strikeouts.
Former Miami Marlins General Manager Dan Jennings said, “My wife always joked that we had a fourth son and that was Jose. He was the guy who could light up a room.” The incredible response from other teams to this tragic event proves how well-liked Fernandez was. On Sept. 26, teams such as the Red Sox, Tigers, Mets, White Sox, Giants and Cubs honored the All-Star pitcher by hanging their respective team jersey with his last name and number on it in their dugout. The Marlins honored the late superstar by wearing Fernandez jerseys in their game against the Mets on Sept. 26. It was a surreal sight, knowing that Fernandez himself had sported that jersey only days before.
“We were all jealous of his talent, but deep down I think we most envied the fun he had while doing something so difficult,” said Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher, Brandon McCarthy. Fernandez took the baseball world by storm in 2013, posting a 12-6 record and a 2.19 ERA, the second best in the majors. These numbers are what helped Fernandez reel in the National League Rookie of the Year award as well as earn a spot on the National League All-Star team.
However, Fernandez faced great adversity in his short life. He was born in Cuba, and according to Sport’s Illustrated’s Tom Verducci, successfully boated to America with his mother in 2008 at age 15. He was drafted by the Marlins with the 11th pick in the 2011 Draft and made his debut in 2013. However, he blew out his elbow and was forced to have Tommy John Surgery in 2014. Fernandez was sidelined a little over a year but came back as dominant as ever. According to SI, his rate of strikeouts per nine innings actually increased after the surgery, leaping from 10.3 to 12.1.
He was the guy who could light up a room.
His girlfriend, Maria Arias, is currently four months pregnant with Fernandez’s child. He expressed his excitement for their future daughter in an Instagram post, stating, “I’m so glad you came into my life. I’m ready for where this journey is gonna take us together. #familyfirst.”
He last pitched on Sept. 20, defeating the Washington Nationals 1-0. Fernandez threw eight shutout innings, striking out twelve and allowing only three hits, in what he proclaimed was the “best start of his career.” With that win, his career record at Marlins Park improved to 29-2, the all-time best mark by any pitcher in any ballpark.
MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred Jr. said in a statement, “All of Baseball is shocked and saddened by the sudden passing of Miami Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez. He was one of our game’s great young stars who made a dramatic impact on and off the field since his debut in 2013. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, the Miami Marlins organization and all of the people he touched in his life.”
“Fernandez was the embodiment of life-life on his pitches, life on his face and life in his body language-and so shall he remain in death, only now as a shocking reminder of life’s ephemerality,” said Verducci.