Jose Fernandez: Family, friend and teammate

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By Rich Mancuso

There was that solemn mood in the clubhouse of the New York Mets. It was not a loss Sunday afternoon to the Philadelphia Phillies as the Mets handled business and scored 17-runs which tied for the eighth most runs scored in franchise history.  

Baseball and the mood in Miami the next few days won’t be the same. The game lost a young star, 24-year old Marlins righthander Jose Fernandez in the wee hours of Sunday morning off the coast of Miami due to a boating accident.

You can ask many reasons why? Why has someone who had superstar stardon all over him been taken away at such a young age, and from the game of baseball?  That answer is left to those who know more about life than the game. The Marlins are hurting more, as Jose Fernandez was the face of their franchise and epitomized the hope for all that left Cuba and came to America for opportunity.

Jose Fernandez was more than baseball. Even the non- baseball fan can understand why there is a wound that will take time to mend on the field in Miami and all of baseball. This is now the chapter that concluded too early about a man who became an inspiration to the people of Cuba and in America.

Three different times there were the attempts to flee his country. The last journey welcomed Jose Fernandez to a better life and we were all blessed in his presence. His mother, now grieving with many saw her son come to her rescue when her attempt failed to have a better life where Fernandez would eventually begin his role to stardom.

She was the passion for Jose Fernandez, maybe more than the strikeouts he compiled on the mound with the Marlins. The baseball world saw mother and son together when Fernandez was named Nl Rookie of the Year in 2013.  That was the beginning as baseball experts said of many more awards that were to come.

This season of 2016, the Jose Fernandez fastball and the breaking ball were leading to gaining votes for that prestigious Cy Young  Award. And in years ahead, there would be no doubts as to how many more awards were to come.

“He played the game with the joy of a little leaguer,” the words of his manager Don Mattingly late Sunday morning.. And the entire baseball world was fascinated with Fernandez to attack the strike zone.

Gio Gonzalez the Washington Nationals righthander can relate to the early success that a friend and opposing pitcher delivered to the game. Gonzalez and his teammates were on the first base side in Pittsburgh and bowed their heads in a moment of silence.Gonzalez did not make that journey from Cuba. His mom and dad had a similar cross to freedom.

“I lost a good friend and devoted family man,” Gonzalez wrote in a text message.  He was too distraught to talk and that was the sentiment around Major League Baseball ballparks.

“To honor him, (Fernandez) we are going to go out and play the game right,” Mets manager Terry Collins said.

Fernandez, as those who knew him said, would have wanted  to keep playing. The ballgames are crucial now in late September and though the Marlins chances to reach the postseason dwindle by the day, with seven games remaining, Jose Fernandez was going to be that ace on the mound who would eventually get his team to play more baseball in many years ahead when October arrived.

“We all know how charismatic he was ,” said Yoenis Cespedes through a translator in the Mets clubhouse.  He only knew his fellow Cuban countryman on the field, also knowing what an impact Fernandez made on the mound in such a brief time.

Baseball is mourning one of their own. More so, a Latino baseball player who struggled to get to the top will be grieved in Miami, a city  known as “Little Havana.”  Jose Fernandez in a brief time made an impact with that smile and charisma.

Statement from Marlins’ Owner Jeffrey H. Loria

“It is with the deepest sorrow that I, together with my family and the entire Marlins organization, mourn the tragic loss of José. Sadly, the brightest lights are often the ones that extinguish the fastest. José left us far too soon, but his memory will endure in all of us. At this difficult time, our prayers are with his mother, grandmother, family and friends.”

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