Jose Fernandez, 24
Maybe it’s best to remember the succession of batters flailing at his pitches; his Cuban grandmother in the stands; the exuberance of him pounding the dugout railing; and the pure and simple joy of baseball.
But other images are just as indelible: his No. 16 carved into the pitching mound dirt in his honor; the trumpet’s haunting notes of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.”
Jose Fernandez fled Cuba by boat at age 15, making a successful escape on his fourth attempt. But as the sea proved a starting point to stardom, so it was the finish. On a September night after a game, Fernandez and two friends died when their boat crashed at high speed into rocks near Miami Beach. The medical examiner would rule alcohol and cocaine were in his system.
Fernandez was twice an All-Star for the Miami Marlins and had a 38-17 record in four seasons. He was NL rookie of the year in 2013, with a future possibly pointed to Cooperstown.
“Sadly,” Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria said, “the brightest lights are often the ones that extinguish the fastest.”
Miami starting pitcher Jose Fernandez was twice an AllStar for the Marlins and had a 38-17 record in four seasons. He was NL rookie of the year in 2013. The Associated Press