The tragic death of 24-year old Jose Fernandez saddened many around the baseball world on Sunday, but there wasn’t a group of people more devastated by the tragedy than the Marlins fans. The Marlins ace passed away after a boating accident on Sunday morning in Miami Beach. Fans were expecting to get to Marlins Park and watch some Marlins baseball, but instead, they arrived to a place full of shock of sadness.
After Miami cancelled their game against the Atlanta Braves, fans were grieving over the loss of not only a Marlins pitcher, but a player that touched the hearts of everyone in Miami. Junko Sasaki, a baseball fan from Japan, fell to her knees and began crying when she heard of the news. Sasaki said that she was in Miami all season to watch Ichiro, but she began to fall in love with Jose Fernandez.
“I fell in love with Jose, his story, how he came from nothing, how he left Cuba on a boat. He was such a fun player who loved this game so much. Just last night he said hello to me from the field, shook his head because I kept shouting his name. He became my favorite player. I just can’t believe he is gone.” Many fans woke up to the horrific on news on Sunday, hoping it was just a hoax.
Once credible sources like Ken Rosenthal and Buster Olney started reporting the news, Marlins fans unfortunately knew that it wasn’t a hoax. “I didn’t believe it,” season-ticket holder John Bradford said. “I’ve seen these hoaxes before. Unfortunately this was not a hoax. It got confirmed shortly after I got here and it’s just unbelievable.” Felipe Zwanzger, 18, had season tickets in Jose’s Heroes section, and he’s been to every one of Fernandez’s home starts.
“It’s unreal, there are no words to describe it,” Zwanzger said. “Whenever my life wasn’t going right I would come here and escape from everything, watch him pitch and everything would feel right. We could lose the game, seeing that guy on the mound, seeing his firepower, I mean, that guy was like family. It was like that family member that could cheer you up when you’re down. He could put a smile on your face no matter what.”
Manny Forte, 64, is from Cuba just like Fernandez. He’s been coming to games since 1997, and he said he has a photo of his granddaughter with Fernandez at home, and he will never forget that photo. “He was a real big kid,” Forte said. “Jose was the face of what we have all strived to do, have our freedom, have a good career here in the U.S., to have all the freedoms this country offers us. He stands for that reminder of where we all came from.”