How can someone that you’ve never met before have such an impact on you? How is it possible to shed a tear and even have a frog in our throats while even thinking or watching footage? I’m sure I’m not alone in this sentiment when it comes to Jose Fernandez. The Marlins pitcher has left a void in the lives of many baseball fans. His story is one that will forever be my favorite and his passion on the field was unique. Sure many players love the game but, his connection with the game was a different one. My connection to the game is surrounded by family, much like his is. His grandmother is the reason why he found love in baseball.
By now you must’ve seen the video of Jose Fernandez reconnecting with his grandma again after successfully escaping Cuba. I dare you to watch that video without getting watery eyes. The fact that his grandma was going over pitches made me smile from ear to ear because this is a prime example of how women are just as important when a young man is looking to take up a career in sports. Fernandez was in line for a huge contract soon. He had his whole career ahead of him. Like Roberto Clemente, he was gone too soon.
I thoroughly looked forward to Mets-Marlins games just to watch Fernandez pitch. His style grabbed my attention. His fastball would turn you into Ric Flair as you would say “WOO!” once you saw how fast that ball went. His curveball reminded me of Pedro Martinez’s curveball. In addition, it was an on-going joke that we were related. I always dreamed of meeting him so I can let him in on this joke while I interviewed him. This young man did his homework and studied the ins and out of the game. He was the cheerleader in the dugout. When Dee Gordon hit his first home run of the season, I have no doubt that was Fernandez out there. We all merely got a minor glimpse of his greatness as he left us with a 38-17 record.
What did Jose Fernandez mean to me? As a daughter of immigrants and first generation in this country, he was the American dream. The man fought through it all and reached his goals of playing in the major league. He is a symbol of hope and taught me that hard work truly does pay off. His tragic ending goes as a lesson to all of us: live every day as if it were your last. As cliche as it sounds, it’s reality.
How will I honor Jose Fernandez? I will buy a Marlins jersey and as much as it kills me, I will wear it during every single Mets-Marlins game. I firmly believe that the proceedings of his jersey sales go to a foundation that helps immigrants that just arrived in America or benefit children who have a terrific relationship with their grandparents.
Dear baseball fans, we’ll smile soon. This hurts.