Marlins’ ace perishes in boating accident


Jose Fernandez delivers a pitch April 12, 2016 aginst the New York Mets. Fernandez was killed in a boating accident Sept. 25. Photo by Aruturo Pardavila III. Used under Creative Commons license

Story by Tye Shelton, sports editor

Baseball is a sport of youth and joy; it does not change in its most simplest forms or the professional leagues. The love for the game shared amongst teammates creates the beauty of the game as it allows for pure joy to overtake teammates, along with the brotherhood formed through the bond of sports.

A game full of joy and energy was diminished Monday night as the Miami Marlins played their first game since team leader and ace Jose Fernandez passed away early Sunday morning in a boating accident.

Fernandez defected from Cuba three times before successfully reaching the United States at the age of 15. Six short years later and he was being named National League rookie of the year, featuring a 97 mph fastball that also got him a spot on the 2013 National League all-star team.

Since the beginning of his career, Fernandez has brought a smile and pure energy to the game matched by no one. His fireball for a fastball was as fiery as his passion for the game of baseball. Everyday he brought a smile to the ballpark whether it was his turn to start or not.

The world learned of his passing Sunday morning when Coast Guard officials found Fernandez and two other individuals amongst wreckage in south of Miami beach. The Major League Baseball commissioner’s office, the Miami Marlins, and Atlanta Braves all agreed to cancel the game between the two clubs Sunday.

While details of the crash remain unknown,the one blaring fact of this travesty is the love all of baseball had for the young kid from Cuba. All games across the league featured a vigil and moment of silence for Fernandez. Jerseys of Fernandez were hung amongst dugouts of other teams, featuring his name on the respective teams jersey. Fellow friends and MLB stars Yasiel Puig, David Ortiz, and Yoenis Cespedes were brought to tears in pre-game rituals.

However it was Monday night that the true impact of the legacy Fernandez will leave, and the impact he made on his teammates. Every man on the Marlins roster wore a 16 on their back Monday night, and every man wore the name Fernandez on their back. Quite possibly one of the only instances in which the name on the back of the jersey was larger than the logo represented on the front. A pre-game vigil was held that featured “take me out the ballgame,” played on the trumpet, which was followed by the Marlins starting roster wiping tears running to their positions.

Marlins leadoff man and second baseman Dee Gordon went above and beyond in his honoring of not only his teammate but dear friend. Gordon took the first pitch of the game right-handed wearing Fernandez helmet with the numerical decals of the number 16 on the back of his helmet. Gordon then proceeded to flip sides of the plate to his actual normal stance, and belted the next pitch out of the park. It is a moment in sports that will go down as one of the most chilling and memorable in the history of the game.

While Fernandez and his death are an American tragedy, it is his pure joy that makes his life one of celebration. His childlike aurora and passion he brought to the ballpark day in and day out is what his teammates will remember. It is this that will dry the eyes of his teammates and the eyes of everyone in baseball. The Marlins are technically not mathematically eliminated from playoff contention, remaining only four games out of the wild card race. The team will trudge on, just as the kid from Cuba would have wanted.