Marlins Star Pitcher Jose Fernandez Killed in Boating Accident

Courtesy: Creative Commons
Courtesy: Creative Commons

Courtesy: Creative Commons

Tim Mainella 9/26/16
In a 2016 MLB season that has been full of joy and celebration for the soon-to-be-retired Red Sox slugger David Ortiz, Sunday was a day of pain and mourning.

Marlins ace Jose Fernandez, just 24 years old, and two friends passed away early Sunday morning in a boating accident off the coast of Miami Beach.

A Cuban national, Fernandez attempted to defect with his family multiple times in his early teens. On one occasion, at the age of 14, Fernandez’s boat broke down 10 miles from the shore of Miami.

As a result, Fernandez spent time in a Cuban prison, a boy among hardened criminals. Upon his release, Fernandez and his family again attempted to defect, this time successfully, but not without peril.

This time, Fernandez and his family set out from the south coast of Cuba, with hopes of arriving in Cancun and emigrating to America from there. During the voyage, Fernandez’s mother was tossed overboard by a rogue wave. Fernandez jumped in and dragged her back to the boat.

When he settled with his family in Tampa, Fernandez spoke little english and had few friends. But he had baseball. He his high school team to two state titles, and the Miami Marlins selected him with their first pick in the 2013 amateur draft.

With just one minor league season under his belt, Fernandez made the big club out of spring training in 2013, a nearly unprecedented jump from single-A straight to the big leagues for a 20 year old pitcher in today’s age of pitch counts and innings restrictions (for context- Trey Ball, drafted out of high school as a pitcher by the Red Sox in 2013, has yet to advance past single-A).

Fernandez immediately captured the attention and adulation of baseball fans everywhere. His love for the game and youthful exuberance was refreshing. He was also one of the most dominant young starting pitchers to come along in recent memory. Fernandez finished his abrupt career with a 2.58 ERA, the second best rate of any pitcher in the live ball era to make as many starts as he did.

The Boston Red Sox played in Tampa Sunday, the final game of a three game series, and the last regular season game of David Ortiz’s career to take place at Tropicana Field. A pregame ceremony was scheduled to honor Ortiz, an event that has been commonplace at major league stadiums this year; Ortiz has been showered with gifts and praise at every stop along his 162 game farewell tour.

Ortiz requested that the ceremony be canceled. “Today is about Jose and his family”, he told reporters.