All too often it seems as if the world is falling apart. We hear it, watch it, live it every single day; the news of killings, hatred, corruption, greed… essentially all that is wrong with our modern society is laid out in front of us. And sometimes these divisive elements get the best of us and we become alienated, socially and emotionally, from our neighbors and fellow citizens. Other times however, in what may feel like an ironic twist of fate, tragic circumstances render us emotionally susceptible to opening our hearts, learning valuable lessons, and strengthening our bonds with each other and within our community.
This week the City of Miami, those in the baseball world, and Cuban American citizens everywhere are feeling these emotions stronger than ever, as they come together to mourn the loss of a truly inspirational and talented young man.
Three days ago, major league baseball pitcher and Cuban-born American Jose Fernandez, age 24, passed away in the early hours of Sunday Morning. Fernandez was out on his beloved fishing boat with two friends, Eddy Rivero and Emilio Macias, when they accidentally crashed the boat into a jetty. This article is dedicated to Jose Fernandez’s life and legacy.
Jose Fernandez was born on July 31, 1992 in Santa Clara, Cuba, a place where he would learn to love baseball and make lifelong friends that would eventually follow a similar path to Major League success. Jose tried (unsuccessfully) to defect from Cuba three times and each attempt resulted in a prison term. Determination, patience, and a willingness to lead a better life finally paid off in 2007, when Fernandez, along with his mother and sister, where able to defect and come to the United States. On that boat passage from Cuba to Mexico something remarkable happened that would forever define Jose Fernandez as a brave and powerful young man. His mother fell overboard when the boat came across some turbulent waters and, without thought for his own safety, a 15 year old Jose Fernandez dived right in after his mother and saved her from drowning.
By 2008, Fernandez and his family were living in Tampa, Florida, where Jose attended Braulio Alonso High School. Playing on the high school baseball team, Fernández was part of the Florida Class 6A state champions in his sophomore and senior seasons. As a senior, Fernández pitched a 13–1 win–loss record with a 2.35 earned run average (ERA) and 134 strikeouts. He also threw two no-hitters. He was certainly a stand-out pitcher, with incredible control and untouchable heat.
But, as many of his former teammates will tell you, what made Fernandez a truly amazing selection for the Miami Marlins in the 2011 MLB draft was not his talent but his charisma, team spirit, and infectious laughter. This was a guy that would spend the next five years of his life doing what he loved and going about his business with true class. Fernandez carried himself with a sense of humility, professionalism, and friendliness. His amazing attitude made people take notice; anyone that met Jose would recognize the value of his character and come away feeling glad they had met him.
After two seasons of absolute domination in the minor leagues, Jose Fernandez made his Major League debut for the Miami Marlins on April 7, 2013, against the New York Mets. And what a dream start it was. Fernandez pitched five innings, giving up only three hits and one run, striking out eight batters. At the age of 20, this performance put him into quite an exclusive club, becoming only the seventh pitcher under the age of 21 to record at least eight strikeouts in his MLB debut since 1916. Three months later, on July 6th, Fernandez would pitch a perfect sixth inning for the National League All Stars, and strike out two future hall-of-fame opponents, Dustin Pedroia and Miguel Cabrera, in what would become a memorable occasion for the young 20 year old phenom.
Looking threw the records and statistics on Jose Fernandez’s Wikipedia page, one thing stands out. He seems to have the record for being the youngest pitcher to achieve everything! His rookie season is considered historic by many baseball analysts, which makes his death that much more tragic, leaving it only to our imaginations to decide what this talented pitcher could have accomplished. Fernandez was a beast, there’s no doubt about it. His personality made Miami fall in love with him; but lets get one thing straight, it was his right arm that got everyone’s attention. Jose finished his rookie season with an adjusted ERA of 174, which put him in the top 10 all-time for pitchers under the age of 21. He was only the fourth pitcher to do this in the last 100 years!
Jose was a family man until the end. He loved his mother and sister dearly but had an exceptionally close bond with his grandmother, Olga, whom he was finally reunited with in 2013 after having not seen her for six years. He leaves behind a girlfriend, Carla Mendoza, who had recently announced that she is pregnant with their child. It’s never easy reconciling with death. When a bright, loving, and talented young man dies in such a way, there are two things that must happen; grieving and honoring his legacy. Even for those here in South Florida who don’t follow baseball, it’s hard not to feel the pain and emptiness that Miami has been left with. Moving forward, the best thing we can do is to represent ourselves like Jose represented himself. Jose Fernandez will not have died in vain if those who knew him, or knew what type of a man he was, decide to live their life with the same exuberance, passion, and love that he showed on and off the field. Rest in peace Jose.
By Laurence Kidd
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.