Some of you are aware I am a huge Marlin's baseball fan. I watch all 162 games each year and the players are my boys of summer. Not the boys--but my boys. I get quite attached.
If you follow sports, all you heard Sunday was the news of the tragic death of Jose Fernandez, Miami's 24 year old pitching ace who was killed in a boating accident. The testimonials have been endless and tears from grown men and yours truly have run their course. No one, not even the young and talented are guaranteed tomorrow.
I became aware of Jose when he was our first round draft pick fresh out of high school in 2011 and I have followed him since. I did a post about him in 2013 extolling his virtues as a player and as a fine young man of 20 years. You can read about him and his amazing story from my post here. His defection from Cuba would make a good movie.
He took nothing for granted. He often said to those born American that they couldn't appreciate freedom as it was just given to them at birth. Jose tried three times to defect to the US and was caught each time. He was shot at and jailed as a 13 year old in prison with hardened criminals. He had to fight for his freedom and no one was prouder than he becoming a US citizen.
Though he only pitched very 5 games, he was in our homes almost every night for he was the camera's favorite focus in the dugouts as he patrolled looking for someone to talk to. He was either picking the brains of the veteran players or sharing a laugh with a friend even on the days he pitched.
Sadly, he had just announce that he and his girlfriend were expecting a daughter in four months. He was thrilled about the coming adventure of parenthood. She is now an unofficial but pregnant widow. She must be destroyed. My heart goes out to her, his mother and beloved grandmother plus all the family members for whom he was the breadwinner.
I will miss so much "Jose Day" that I looked forward to every 5 days. I will miss his great smile that he took with him on the field. Yes he was competitive but was also very quick to smile and poke fun at himself.
He wanted to bat, he wanted to shag balls for hitters, he wanted to sign autographs long after others had left the field and he wanted to enjoy things we take for granted each day. His joy for life was constant.
I sometimes think I will just wake up and this will all be a bad dream. It seems that unreal. I will miss that young man so very much but I am ever so grateful for the imprint he made in my life and on the sport he and I both love---baseball.
RIP young man. You were an absolute joy to watch.