I woke up Sunday morning and did not believe what I had heard. I wished that what I was reading was not true. One baseball's most promising young talents, Jose Fernandez, had passed away in a overnight boating accident. It hit me to the core.
The broad-shouldered Fernandez had burst onto the scene in 2013 for the Miami Marlins and was one of the most exciting pitchers in baseball to watch. Fernandez dazzled in his first major league season and became the first Cuban born player ever to win the Rookie of the Year award. That year he was also selected to represent the Marlins in the All-Star game and became only the third player in All-Star game history to record two strikeouts prior to his 21st birthday in an All-Star game debut. This young man was a one-of-a-kind talent.
After his rookie season, Fernandez tore a ligament in his pitching arm and had to undergo Tommy John surgery - which wiped out his entire 2015 season. But when he returned in 2016 he came back stronger than ever, making his second All-Star appearance - befuddling batters along the way with his signature curveball appropriately nicknamed "The Defector. "
Aside from his talent throwing the baseball, the one thing that stood out the most about Fernandez was his smile and electric personality. When Fernandez took the field it always looked as though he was ready break into a exotic dance routine. That's the type of energy he brought to the ballpark. When he would end an inning with a strikeout he reminded me of a little kid dancing at a wedding after the adults had tired out, realizing he had the floor all to himself. When JoFer took the mound it was a treat to watch, he had it all.
Jose Fernandez was the type of player that I cannot wait to tell my grandchildren about. The passion and emotion that Fernandez had for the game was unique. Not many people wake up every morning excited to go to work, but Fernandez seemed to relish the opportunity he was given and we should all try to share the passion he had for not baseball but for life.
It truly is a shame that death makes people realize how phenomenal a person is, but that's how it goes sometimes. Jose Fernandez had so much to offer both on and off the baseball diamond and he will surely be missed. The outpouring of love and affection we have seen across Major League Baseball is a testament to what he meant to his teammates, his coaches, and his peers.
Fernandez was the image of what the American dream has become. He fled Cuba with hopes of a better life for himself on his family and was able to fulfill that dream. We can only hope that one day we are blessed with a public figure with the characteristics and charisma that embodied Jose Fernandez.
Rest in peace.