Miami Marlins ace pitcher was found dead early Sunday morning after a boating accident, the team and Coast Guard officials have confirmed.
He was 24.
According to authorities, the 32-foot center-console SeaVee in which Fernandez and two male friends in their 20s were traveling was spotted overturned on the unlit jetty that juts into Government Cut from South Pointe Park at around 3:15 a.m by a U.S. Coast Guard crew on routine patrol out of Miami Beach. The boat’s navigation lights were still on, and debris was scattered everywhere.
Sunday’s Marlins home game against the Atlanta Braves has been canceled.
“As you see around you, there are no words to describe how this organization feels,” Marlins president David Samson said at a news conference attended by every player and coach on the team, plus other team personnel. “There’s no playbook. There’s no words of consolation. … You realize how precious life is, how taking things for granted is a foolish man’s game.”
Fernandez, who leaves behind a pregnant girlfriend, was considered one of the Marlins biggest stars and one of the best pitchers in baseball. He was the team’s first-round draft pick in 2011 and the National League rookie of the year in 2013. He was finishing up on his finest season in the majors, and expected to make his final start of the season Monday after his appearance Sunday was pushed back.
“Hermano, wherever you are, you know how much I loved you,” tweeted Yasiel Puig, who like Fernandez was a Cuban athlete and one of baseball’s most exciting, rising stars in recent years. “Sin palabras. My heart is with the families.”
Growing up in communist Cuba, Fernandez was jailed after failing on one of several attempts to flee the nation. When he finally managed to defect successfully, it was only after he escaped gunfire and jumped into the Gulf of Mexico to rescue his mother after their boat capsized. They crossed the border from Mexico, stepping foot in Texas, on April 5, 2008. He was 15.
He was also the Marlins’ biggest draw, with attendance and television ratings consistently spiking on the days he pitched — “Jose Day” as they were commonly known.
Eduardo Perez, a former major leaguer who does color commentary for Marlins games on Fox Sports Florida, reacted to the news on ESPN.
“All he wanted to do was have fun and be on that mound and play the game – not work the game, but play the game. And he played it beautifully,” Perez said.
“He’s going to be greatly, greatly missed.”
Source: The Miami Herald