Two weeks after the sudden death of Jose Fernández, the hearts of millions are still shattered over the tragic boating accident. Fernández was more than just a baseball star and a significant part of Miami’s community. He was the living embodiment of the American Dream come true.
Jose Fernández was born in Santa Clara, Cuba on July 31, 1992 where he lived until he defected to the U.S. in 2008. In his fourth and final attempt to reach the United States he traveled with his sister and mother. During an interview with the Herald, Fernández said someone fell off of the boat during the arduous journey and he jumped in to save the person. To his surprise it turned out to be his mother, Maritza.
“I dove to help a person not thinking who that person was. Imagine when I realized it was my own mother. If that does not leave a mark on you for the rest of your life, I don’t know what will,” he told the Herald.
Drafted by the Marlins in 2013, Fernández was a remarkable pitcher that left baseball fans in awe. He won National League Rookie of the Year Award in 2013 and made the MLB all-star game in 2016. Fernández was a key player and valued teammate for the Miami Marlins. In a game against the New York Mets, the Marlins honored Fernández’ memory by uniting around the pitcher’s mound and wearing Fernández’s name on their jerseys.
Fernández shut out the Washington Nationals over eight innings, striking out 12 in a 1-0 victory in his final game. Martin Prado, Marlins infielder, said Fernandez told teammates he believed it was the greatest start of his career.
The only thing more important than baseball for Jose Fernández was his mother and grandmother. As the two women raised Fernández, he referred to his grandmother as “the love of his life.” Days before passing away, he posted a picture of his pregnant girlfriend, Maria Arias, who is expecting their baby girl. Those close to Fernández say he was both thrilled and scared to become a father and chose to name his daughter Penelope.
The ashes of the player were scattered into the ocean a week after he died. Fernandez and his mother Maritza had discussed this as a final resting place. Although he is gone, his smile, charisma, and big heart will never be forgotten. Fernández’ legacy will always live on through baseball history and through his daughter.
Natalia is a senior at the University of Miami studying Journalism. She aspires to attend law school and become a human rights lawyer. Natalia loves writing, volunteering, and living a healthy lifestyle.