Baseball Tragedy


Sarah Ruggles, Photojournalist

On Sunday, September 25, the world of baseball lost a great pitcher. The Miami Marlins’ pitcher Jose Fernandez died in a boating accident.

Born in 1992, Fernandez grew up loving the sport of baseball. He grew up in Cuba and lived on the same street as, and was friends with future MLB shortstop Aledmys Diaz. Both Fernandez and Diaz played on the same youth baseball team, clearly having a bond over the sport. In 2007, Fernandez defected from Cuba to come live in Tampa, Florida to pursue his dream of playing major league baseball. Playing on the Braulio Alonso high school team, Fernandez was a part of the Florida Class 6A state champions in his sophomore and senior class.

In the 2011 MLB draft, the Florida Marlins selected Fernandez in the first round, with the 14th overall selection. After pitching for the Greensboro Grasshoppers of the Class A South Atlantic League, the Marlins promoted Fernandez to the Jupiter Hammerheads of the Class A-Advanced Florida State League. He finished that 2012 season with a 14-1 win-loss record, and was named the Marlins’ Minor League Pitcher of the Year. Prior to the 2013 season, the Marlins’ invited Fernandez to spring training, and eventually added him to their 25-man Opening Day roster. That year, he was the second youngest National League player. The Marlins scheduled his major league debut on April 7th against the New York Mets, where he did not disappoint. During his debut, he pitched five innings, allowing one run on three hits with eight strikeouts. He became the seventh pitcher under the age of 21 to record at least eight strikeouts in his MLB debut since 1916. On July 6, 2013, Fernandez was selected to represent the Miami Marlins for the National League All Star team. After a great performance during the All Star games, he established the Marlins’ rookie record for most strikeouts in one game. In July 2013, Fernandez was named Rookie of the Month for the National League and eventually won the National League Rookie of the Year Award. Fernandez continued playing for the Miami Marlins for the 2014, 2015, and 2016 season. Sadly, enough, his last game was on September 20, 2016, where he pitched eight shutout innings in a 1-0 win against the division-winning Nationals.

At just 24 years old, Jose Fernandez was stripped of his life. Early on the morning of Sunday, September 25, Fernandez was killed in a boating accident off Miami Beach, Florida, that also killed two other people. The U.S. Coast Guard found the boat at about 3:00am overturned on a jetty near Government Cut and South Pointe Park. That day, the Marlins cancelled their game against the Atlanta Braves. Teams around the major leagues honored Fernandez after his death, paying tribute to him with a long moment of silence. The next day, the Marlins announced that they would retire Fernandez’s uniform number, No. 16, in his honor. After learning about this tragic story, Jaclyn Hilton (10) said, “[she] can’t wrap her head around the fact that such an innocent man was now gone, only to be remembered as possibly one of the greatest rookie pitchers in MLB history.”