Miami Marlins are mourning death of pitcher Jose Fernandez, a baseball star who died over the weekend in a boating accident.
The 24-year-old Fernandez was beloved by the team, and by the wider Miami community. “He was one of us,” writes Miami Herald columnist Fabiola Santiago.
Axccording to Santiago, there was a special connection between the player and the city due in part to the perilous journey Fernandez made from Cuba to Florida by boat in the middle of the night.
The Miami Marlins made an emotional return to the game Monday night after the death of their pitching ace, Jose Fernandez, taking the field decked in jerseys with his last name and No. 16 to honor the teammate they lost in a weekend boating accident.
Santiago further added that Fernandez never tired of showing how grateful he was to be in this country, how miraculous his good fortune to be in the city of his dreams.
The 32-foot boat he was riding in with two friends capsized after hitting a treacherous jetty barely visible at high tide at Government Cut between Miami Beach and Fisher Island. There were no survivors.
“I’ve seen the fans coming to the stadium with flowers and tears,” Santiago said in an interview with The World. “Online, people are posting selfies they took with Jose. He was known to do that. After the games, he would kiss his mom, his grandmother, his girlfriend and then he was off to meet with the fans.”
“Everybody else would kind of walk off the field and go home after the games. But he stayed behind,” Santiago explains. “Baseball players are no longer known for that kind of generosity of their time. And that seems like that was something that was done a long time ago. He just did it naturally. For him, it seemed effortless to relate to the people of this city.”
“His smile on the field. His zest for life and for living it all and giving it all, that really what’s he brought home.”
Players from the teams hugged each other, and the Marlins converged on the pitcher’s mound to rub dirt on their pants in honor of the late pitcher, who used dirt on the mound instead of a rosin bag to keep his hands dry.
The Marlins beat the Mets 7-3, a day after calling off Sunday’s game to mourn the loss of the 24-year-old. Fernandez died early Sunday in a boat crash at the entrance of Miami Harbor.