On Sunday morning, Miami Marlins ace pitcher Jose Fernandez, 24, who tried three times unsuccessfully to flee Cuba before he finally made it to the United States to become the a two-time All-Star and National League Rookie of the Year award in 2013, was tragically killed in a boat crash in Miami Beach.
The story is especially heartbreaking because of the horrors Fernandez endured just trying to get to the United States; he was thrown in jail for months at the age of 14 with men who routinely murdered other inmates after he and his mother tried to flee the Communist hellhole of Cuba. He was also heroic, leaping in the sea to save his mother when she was swept overboard on their final successful journey to Mexico, from whence they came to America in 2007. The full story of Fernandez’s harrowing experiences can be found here.
Fernandez became an American citizen in 2015. He recently announced on Instagram that he and his girlfriend were expecting a child, according to Local 10.
At least three people were killed in the Sunday morning crash; Chief Petty Officer Nyxolyno Cangemi told the Associated Press that at 3:30 a.m., a Coast Guard patrol boat found an 32-foot vessel that was overturned on a jetty near Government Cut. Fernandez was not wearing a life vest.
Lorenzo Veloz of the Fish Commission stated that the boat had a “severe impact” with a jetty, adding that the boat was traveling full speed and was demolished. No evidence of alcohol or illegal substances was found.
The Marlins released a statement: “The Miami Marlins organization is devastated by the tragic loss of Jose Fernandez. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this very difficult time.” MLB commissioner Rob Manfred added, “All of baseball is shocked and saddened by the sudden passing of Miami Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez. He was one of our game’s great young stars who made a dramatic impact on and off the field since his debut in 2013. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, the Miami Marlins organization and all of the people he touched in his life.”
Sunday’s game between the Marlins and the Atlanta Braves in Miami was cancelled.
Fernandez was a phenom; he only played 27 games in the minor leagues, before he was selected to the Marlins’ Opening Day roster in 2013. He had a remarkable career record of 38-17 with a 2.43 ERA and 589 strikeouts in 471 1/3 innings. In 2014, he made eight starts, then needed Tommy John surgery.
This year, Fernandez was 16-8 with a 2.86 ERA, led MLB with 12.6 strikeouts per nine innings, and was a prime candidate for NL Cy Young Award. In his last game on September 20, he threw eight shutout innings against the Washington Nationals, only giving up just three hits and striking out 12, the ninth time in 2016 that he struck out 11 or more.
Interviewed in 2013, when asked how he felt about the restriction that stipulated he had to follow a dress code six days a week, the young man who had survived so much smiled, saying, “Man, if you can say that, you got a pretty good job.”