Jose Fernandez. What he really left behind.

Pic via ABC.NET

Pic via ABC.NET

We lost someone very special and it breaks my heart to have to write about someones who I supported and respected. 

Jose Fernandez was like no other athlete.

A day earlier, the Marlins were awoken with news that Fernandez, their 24-year-old plug, had been killed with two friends in a boating accident off Miami Beach.

A night earlier, instead of playing a game, the entire team went to the Fernandez family home, trying to find comforting words for a family but knowing no such words exist.

How do you play a game a day after that? One way is the way the Marlins did, blowing out the New York Mets by taking a 5-0 lead in the first two innings. 

“This is shallow, but the show goes on,” Marlins president David Samson said. “There has been a lot of talking and a lot of crying and a lot of praying and a lot of trying to make sense of something you can’t make sense of. There is no sense to a life ended like that, in a way that is so meaningless.

“It’s our job to make his life matter, so we’re going to do that forever, and forever starts today.”

Fernandez made his major league debut against the Mets in 2013 and was scheduled to face them again Monday night in his final start of the season. Instead, Miami and the Marlins mourned the loss of the 24-year-old pitcher, whose talent and captivating personality were a combination unmatched in the sport.

The Marlins announced that they will retire Fernandez's No. 16. There were cries to allow him to be elected to the Hall of Fame or name some kind of award after him. But this should be Fernandez's lasting legacy: Remembering why he did what he did. 

That is something very important to understand. Watching the pregame ceremony. We had teammates from America, from Cuba, from the  Dominican Republic, from Venezuela, all wearing jerseys with Fernandez's No. 16 on the backs. We saw Giancarlo Stanton and Christian Yelich, a black man and a white man, doing their pregame sprints together, both with tears in their eyes. We saw Dee Gordon, cry as he rounded the bases after impossibly leading off the game with his first homer of the season. We saw the Marlins place their hats on the mound after they had defeated the Mets.

It was a team rallying around a kid who was born in Cuba, escaped to Mexico on a boat, made his way to Florida and became a baseball star with a movie-star smile. It was all a reminder that this game brings together people and players from all over the globe. They all bring their own passion, love, their own style of play, their own idea of flair and it’s up to all of us to try and understand our differences, to understand there are different ways to play this game. And to remember why you started in the first place. Why your passion brought you to where you are. How far you reached for your dreams. It is a reminder that Jose Fernandez did what he did because he loved it. 

Fernandez left behind a girlfriend who is expecting their first child, the mother who came with him to the United States and the grandmother who helped raise him.

Fernandez’s agent, Scott Boras, spoke to reporters near the batting cage – or at least tried to. He said he paid his respects to the family before coming to the ballpark.

“His mother wanted me to tell everyone how she felt,” Boras said. “She showed me pictures of him as a boy. She actually made his uniform when he was 7 or 8, with Cuban red pants.”

Boras then cut short the interview because he couldn’t stop crying

May his soul Rest in Peace