José Fernandez, the 24 year old pitcher for the Miami Marlins, was killed early Sunday morning in a boating accident. Emilio Jesus Marcias, 27, and Eduardo Rivero, 25, died alongside Fernandez when the 30 foot fishing boat crashed into rocks off a beach in Miami just after 3:00 a.m. Thoughts and prayers go out to loved ones of all three victims.
Fernandez arrived in the U.S. in 2007 at the age of 15. After three failed attempts, Fernandez and his mother finally defected from Cuba. During this fourth and final trip, Fernandez’s mother fell overboard and without hesitation, he jumped in after her and pulled her back up to safety. They ended up making it to Tampa, Florida where Fernandez attended high school. He quickly established himself as one of the most dominant pitchers in the country, while also taking extra English classes to try and learn the language. In 2011, the Miami Marlins drafted him in the first round of the MLB Draft.
Fernandez proved to be one of the most dominant pitchers in the MLB throughout his short career, spanning parts of four seasons after missing large parts of the 2014 and 2015 seasons due to Tommy John surgery. Despite this, Fernandez accumulated a 38-17 career record, 589 strikeouts, a 1.05 WHIP, 2.58 ERA and .209 OBA in 471.1 IP. Before his tragic death, Fernandez was having the best statistical year of his career going 16-8 with a 2.86 ERA and 253 strikeouts.
Fernandez was one of the most exciting players to watch in all of baseball, and very special to the Cuban community of Miami. The days he pitched were known to Marlins fans as ‘José Day’, and on ‘José Day’, the stands were always filled. Whether the Marlins were in first place or last place, it didn’t matter, the fans loved to watch Fernandez pitch. His ‘stuff’ was compared to that of pitching greats Pedro Martinez, Randy Johnson and Dwight Gooden. His infectious personality and the way he carried himself on the field left him in the same conversation with the likes of Fernando Valenzuela and Mark ‘The Bird’ Fidrych. He had a certain way about him, the way he took the mound, or celebrated a strikeout, seeming to have more fun than everyone else. That’s what made him special; that’s why the fans loved him.
Though I’ve heard nothing but good things about Fernandez, this whole situation still troubles me deeply. Why were these men out on a fishing boat at 3:00 a.m.? Why were they traveling at a high rate of speed? There are so many unanswered questions at this point. Also, according to TMZ, Fernandez was spotted at a popular waterfront bar just an hour before his death, but I’ll wait for more details before making any assumptions. Another interesting piece to this situation is a picture of a text conversation between victim Eduardo Rivero and his friend, Will Bernal. The conversation consisted of Bernal trying to convince Rivero not to go out on the boat. The most chilling message was: “It’s not my time yet”, which was sent by Rivero just hours before his death. Stay tuned for future updates about this horrific tragedy.