This past weekend the game of baseball bid farewell to a young superstar in the making by the name of Jose Fernandez, a 24-year old with a cannon for a right arm.
The man meant so much to his community in Miami, for reasons that extend far beyond the baseball diamond, as he related to so many of those who called Miami home.
At the age of 15, young Jose made the treacherous journey from Cuba to Miami by way of boat, and at one point had to save his mother from drowning as they sailed. Already, Jose had accomplished so much by getting his family to safety.
Fast forward nine years, and Jose had become one of the best pitchers in Major League Baseball, sporting a 16-8 record during the 2016 season for the Miami Marlins. He was poised to be one of the most electric arms the game had seen in quite some time. But that all ended the instant Fernandez’s boat crashed.
Sunday morning, baseball players and fans woke to the news that Major League Baseball had lost a young superstar in Fernandez in the wee hours of that morning. Immediately, teams took steps to honor the late pitcher, but it was what his teammate, Dee Gordon, did that will have us all talking for years to come.
Gordon, who hadn’t hit a home run the entire 2016 season, took the plate for his first at bat Monday. But it wasn’t an at bat in the usual way he normally would play. Honoring his deceased teammate and friend, Gordon took the first pitch from the right side of the plate (even though he’s left handed) to pay tribute to Jose. Then, he took his normal position, and that’s when IT happened.
He stepped up to the plate and the ball was thrown… And with one crack of the bat, history was made. Gordon did the unthinkable —— he hit a home run that would forever live in our minds. Watch the incredible moment in all its glory:
Before that glorious moment, Gordon had yet to hit a home run this year; but, this time something was different. Even the speedy Gordon admits that he had a little help during the at-bat:
“I ain’t never hit a ball that far, not even in BP [batting practice]. I told the boys, ‘If you all don’t believe in God, you better start.’ For that to happen today, we had some help.”
The team’s slugger, Giancarlo Stanton, said that the team was “hitting balls from underwater pretty much,” with how emotional they all were, playing the game they love hours after losing a brother, and friend. “Our eyes were full of water, and the numbers were still there. We found a way to do it, all together.”
The world lost not just an excellent baseball player, but a genuinely good human being who never seemed to take the game more serious than it was. He meant so much to the city of Miami as he related to people from Cuba and the U.S. in a way that few people could. He became one of the most beloved sports figures almost as soon as he arrived. Sadly, we will never know just how great he could’ve been.
Rest in peace Jose Fernandez! You may be gone, but you, and your incredible story will never be forgotten.