Loria: Marlins to erect statue of Jose Fernandez

The Marlins will erect a statue of Jose Fernandez outside Marlins Park, according to the team’s owner, Jeffrey Loria.

Fernandez and two other men died last September when, in the middle of the night, his boat slammed into a jetty that extends off the southern tip of Miami Beach.

Loria told ESPN about the team’s plans to create a statue towering “9 or 10 feet tall” because the pitcher was “larger than life.” The Marlins had already announced that no player will ever wear Fernandez’s number 16 again.

Fernandez defected from Cuba at age 15, won the NL Rookie of the Year award and became a two-time All-Star. His enormous popularity in South Florida bridged the divide between the franchise and fans antagonized by too much losing and too many payroll purges.

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.

A toxicology report found that the star pitcher had cocaine and alcohol in his system at the time of the crash, and investigators later determined that he was driving the boat.

Loria, who buys and sells art, said he is attending to the sculpture personally.

“I went through hundreds and hundreds of photographs with the sculptor and gestures of Jose’s face to try and make it perfect,” he told ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick. “No one else is going to get involved in a piece of sculpture other than me, right? I’ve spent 50 years in that world.”

The owner, who is considering selling the team, hopes the statue will be finished before the year ends.

“We’re going to cast it in bronze and paint the glove the red-orange that Jose would like, and that will be the only color on it. I don’t want to make it kitschy, but that was his favorite thing. Hopefully we’ll see it in six months or so. It’s a very long process to cast a sculpture that’s 9 or 10 feet high, as opposed to 6 feet,” he told ESPN.

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