Jose Fernandez brought the game of baseball to life every time he took the field. He wasn’t just an incredible pitcher, and he certainly was that, but his smile and personality were equally as vibrant as his fastball and curveball.
Fernandez, 24, was killed in a boating accident Sunday morning and in a life and career that ended far too early he produced a number of memorable moments that will not be forgotten.
Just gonna watch this Jose Fernandez/Troy Tulowitzki GIF a whole bunch of times today. pic.twitter.com/uiOabv0tVM
— Matt Lindner (@mattlindner) September 25, 2016
DID YOU CATCH THAT?
From the moment Fernandez arrived in the big leagues as a 20-year-old in 2013 with the Miami Marlins he showed he belonged. He knew he belonged, too. Fernandez won the National League Rookie of the Year award and finished third in Cy Young voting, but there was one play from that season that perfectly captured his spirit and his skill. Fernandez snared a comebacker off Troy Tulowitzki’s bat, leading to a tremendous exchange between hitter and pitcher.
FIRST HOME RUN FIREWORKS
Fernandez made his name on the mound, but he could handle a bat almost as well. He socked his first major-league home run late in his rookie season and it was not without a little controversy. Fernandez’s no-doubter to left-center field against the Braves caused the benches to clear after he admired his shot. While the two teams rushed toward home plate, Fernandez was in the middle of the scrum and still had a smile on his face. He had just hit his first major-league home run, after all.
When Fernandez finally defected from Cuba after multiple failed attempts, he did so with a heavy heart. He had to leave his beloved grandmother, Olga, back in their home country. Fernandez went six years without seeing her, and was resigned to the fact he might never see her again.
It was to his great surprise, and delight, when they were reunited following the 2013 season, as tears streamed down both their faces. His grandmother was in the stands at Marlins Park for his first start in 2014 and that’s when Fernandez’s American dream really became a reality.
This is how I'll remember Jose Fernandez. Kid just loved the game of baseball. pic.twitter.com/4yjqggGebN
— Zack Cox (@ZackCoxNESN) September 25, 2016
Fernandez’s enthusiasm wasn’t limited to the games he pitched. In fact, he may have been even more fired up watching his team play. Any time the camera panned to the dugout it often found Fernandez cheering, dancing or goofing around. No one had more fun at a baseball stadium.
— Miami Marlins (@Marlins) September 21, 2016
Fernandez’s last start on Sept. 20 against the Washington Nationals was perhaps his best from a season where he could win the NL Cy Young award. He pitched eight shutout innings, racking up 12 strikeouts in a 1-0 win and Fernandez’s dominance earned him a bevy of kisses from Marlins hitting coach Barry Bonds.
That’s the kind of love Fernandez brought out of people, just by being himself.
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