MLB star hon­oured by tea ul team­mates

The Myanmar Times - - Sport -

MIAMI Mar­lins play­ers wear­ing No 16 jer­seys in hon­our of Jose Fer­nan­dez paid a tear­ful trib­ute to their fallen team-mate on Septem­ber 26, a day af­ter the star pitcher was killed in a boat­ing ac­ci­dent.

A night of wrench­ing emo­tion saw sev­eral of the Cuban-born player’s team­mates choke back tears as they gath­ered on the pitcher’s mound at Mar­lins Park ahead of their game against the New York Mets.

Many play­ers touched a large “16” which had been painted on the mound in trib­ute to the 24-year-old pitch­ing ace, be­fore hang­ing their heads in a mo­ment of si­lence.

Trib­utes fol­lowed through­out the game, even­tu­ally won 7-3 by the Mar­lins, with Dee Gor­don break­ing down in sobs af­ter hit­ting his first home run of the sea­son, be­fore be­ing em­braced by team­mates.

Mar­lins owner Jef­frey Lo­ria said ear­lier in the day that the club would per­ma­nently re­tire Fer­nan­dez’s “16” jersey num­ber.

“No­body’s go­ing to wear it. I can tell you that now, no­body will wear that num­ber again,” Lo­ria told the Sun-Sen­tinel news­pa­per.

Mar­lins coach Don Mat­tingly said the shat­tered or­gan­i­sa­tion were “not try­ing to do any­thing other than just get through the day”.

“We’re just han­dling it the best we can, what­ever way that is, for each guy,” said Mat­tingly shortly be­fore the game.

“We have a love for Jose, the way he played, his pas­sion for the game, and his en­ergy for it. And I think our guys want to hon­our that, and what we’ve learned from him and that joy that he played with.”

Mar­lins pres­i­dent David Sam­son said Fer­nan­dez, a Cuban refugee who be­came a US citizen and achieved his dream of star­ring for a team in Miami, had been a role model be­yond base­ball.

“This was a loss not just in the base­ball world, but a loss in the com­mu­nity,” Sam­son said.

“Jose Fer­nan­dez rep­re­sented the pos­si­bil­ity of free­dom and the pos­si­bil­ity of what Amer­ica can mean to the Cuban peo­ple.”

Fans cre­ated a makeshift me­mo­rial for the pitcher at the Florida base­ball sta­dium, leav­ing flow­ers and hand­writ­ten notes in his hon­our.

The trib­utes come a day af­ter Fer­nan­dez’s body was found, along with two de­ceased boat­ing com­pan­ions, in an over­turned ves­sel off Miami Beach.

The Mar­lins can­celled their Septem­ber 25 game against the At­lanta Braves as his team­mates ab­sorbed the shock of his loss.

Au­thor­i­ties said Fer­nan­dez and the other two vic­tims were killed when the 32-foot (10-me­tre) ves­sel crashed into a jetty. The Coast Guard dis­cov­ered the over­turned boat around 3:30am on Septem­ber 25.

Of­fi­cials said Fer­nan­dez was killed as a re­sult of the im­pact. A Coast Guard spokesper­son told AFP on Septem­ber 26 the other two vic­tims have been iden­ti­fied as Emilio Ma­cias, 27, and Ed­uardo Rivero, 25.

“We are await­ing tox­i­col­ogy re­sults,” spokesper­son Dar­ren Caprara said, adding that it can “take sev­eral days or can take up to sev­eral months” for the ac­ci­dent in­ves­ti­ga­tion to be com­pleted.

The in­ves­ti­ga­tion is be­ing led by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Con­ser­va­tion Com­mis­sion.

Fer­nan­dez was en­joy­ing his best ma­jor league sea­son, post­ing a 16-8 record with a 2.86 earned run av­er­age.

The hard-throw­ing right-han­der set a club record with 253 strike­outs this sea­son, and his 12.49 strike­outs per nine in­nings led the ma­jors.

He came to the United States from Cuba at age 15, af­ter three failed at­tempts.

At 20, he broke into the ma­jor leagues and was Na­tional League Rookie of the Year in 2013.

Fer­nan­dez’s fi­nal start last week was one of the best of the two-time All-Star’s ca­reer.

He tossed a sea­son-high eight in­nings and struck out 12 in a 1-0 shutout win over the Washington Na­tion­als.

Photo: AFP

Dee Gor­don of the Miami Mar­lins wears a Jose Fer­nan­dez jersey in hon­our of the late pitcher dur­ing the game against the New York Mets at Mar­lins Park on Septem­ber 26.

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