It was a somber mood in the Minnesota Twins clubhouse on Sunday morning. The television screen in Paul Molitor’s office displayed the tragic news: Jose Fernandez, Miami Marlins star pitcher, dead at 24 after boating accident.
“It’s one of those days where you think about those things,” said Molitor.
“I’ve been around enough to have, at least peripherally, seen these type of things. I remember even the Clemente story as a kid, and I remember Thurman Munson, having had played against him relatively in the short time before his plane crashed. The Cleveland tragedy with the boats.”
Fernandez was killed, along with two friends, in a boating accident on Miami beach early on Sunday morning. The boat hit a rocky jetty going full speed and capsized. A U.S. Coast Guard crew heading out on law enforcement patrol around 3:30 am found the overturned 33-foot boat.
“There’s a lot of really smart people that try to verbalize and help understand these type of things, but they all fall short, because you really just can’t put into words how when something like this happens. In a simple way, it’s just the fragility,” said Molitor.
“You talk about tomorrow not being promised to anyone, like Kirby talked about, it just really hits home when you have to deal with something of this magnitude today with Jose.”
The New York Times called Fernandez’s back story “a baseball fairy tale.” He was jailed trying to defect from Cuba as a teenager, making it to America on his fourth attempt in 2008 while also saving his mother from drowning on their way to Mexico.
He was chosen 14th overall by Miami in the 2011 draft, and was an All-Star this season with a 16-8 record and 2.86 ERA, leading the major leagues in strikeouts per nine innings, with 12.5.
“It is not a stretch to say that Fernandez, though very young, was on a Hall of Fame trajectory,” reads the Times story.
The Marlins have called a cancellation of their game against the Atlanta Braves today.
“There’s a lot of things moving really fast in the game this time of year. Postseason implications, a lot of guys play for a long time trying to find their way into World Series. And then the pause button gets hit, and you try to absorb. It’s gonna affect a lot of people in different ways,” said Molitor.
“But there’s no question that this guy’s reputation of character and energy and passion and some of those difficulties he had to overcome to find his way over to play, I mean, those are all resonating very strongly and clearly today.”