MIAMI (WSVN) - The death of Miami Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez shook not only his teammates and family members, but fans and members of the sports community alike.
Fernandez was killed, along with two others, in a boating accident, early Sunday morning. Family members have identified the other victims as Eduardo Rivero and Emilio Macias.
Local organizations took to social media to voice their heartache and prayers for the pitcher. The Marlins released a statement which read, “The Miami Marlins organization is devastated by the tragic loss of Jose Fernandez. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this very difficult time.”
Several teammates also took to social media to express their feelings, like the following post by Marlins left fielder Christian Yelich:
Been trying to think of what to say or how to comprehend all of this and the truth is there are no words that will do you justice. You played this game and lived your life at 100%. The competitor you were is the competitor we all strive to be. Your loss hit us all hard and im going to miss you buddy. The clubhouse or the team won't be the same without you but you'll always be with us. I know I'll see you again someday. Love you man 🙏🏻
Giancarlo Stanton shared his disbelief about the loss on Instagram.
I'm still waiting to wake up from this nightmare. I lost my brother today and can't quite comprehend it. The shock is overwhelming. What he meant to me , our team, the city of Miami, Cuba & everyone else in the world that his enthusiasm/heart has touched can never be replaced. I can't fathom what his family is going through because We, as his extended Family are a wreck. I gave him the nickname Niño because he was just a young boy Amongst men , yet those men could barely compete with him . He had his own level, one that was changing the game. EXTRAORDINARY, as a person before the player. Yet still just a kid, who's joy lit up the stadium more than lights could. A kid whose time came too soon. One that I will miss & never forget. Rest In Peace Niño, Jose Fernandez 🙏🏽
Second baseman Dee Gordon showed up to the stadium to pay his respects and write the following on Twitter:
MLB tweeted their own shock at the news of Fernandez’s death, and later, an image of Fernandez’s jersey number on the pitching mound at Marlins Stadium.
Outside the stadium, fans fought tears as they left flowers, signed photos, balloons and pieces of memorabilia in a growing memorial to the fallen player. “I woke up to text messages from friends on our group chat about Jose, and I couldn’t believe it,” said Fernandez fan Mario Valdes.
Fellow admirer Juan Luis Alvarez was left in disbelief when he first heard the news. “I thought it was a hoax. It thought it was a joke, a sick joke,” he said.
The pitcher’s death also shook other sports teams aside from the Marlins. The Florida Panthers released a statement reading, “The Florida Panthers players, staff, and entire organization extend their most sincere condolences to the family of Jose Fernandez and the Miami Marlins organization. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Fernandez and Marlins families through this profoundly difficult time.”
The Miami Dolphins offered their condolences through Twitter, along with a moment of silence at their Sunday game against the Cleveland Browns.
Former Dolphins player Dan Marino also offered his condolences.
Alex Rodriguez also tweeted his feelings and sympathies to Fernandez’s family.
The 24 year-old was known for his energy on and off the field. “He was the sparkplug of the team,” said one fan.
“Not only a huge baseball loss, but a loss to our community, the Cuban-American community,” said Valdes.
Fan Felipe Zwanzger marveled at how humble and down to earth Fernandez was. “He just felt like a fan on the field. He represented us,” he said.
The University of Miami Hurricanes and the Miami Heat were also among those in the South Florida sports community to express sorrow for the untimely passing of the Marlins pitcher.
The death sent shock waves beyond South Florida, as well. St. Louis Cardinal Matt Carpenter offered his condolences along with Atlanta Brave Chipper Jones.
Even rivals, like Yasiel Puig, of the Los Angeles Dodgers, sent out his love for his fellow Cuban professional ballplayer.
New York Mets players, held a moment of silence and also hung a jersey with Fernandez’s number and name in their dugout as a tribute.
Local community leaders, like Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez and Miami-Dade County Public Schools superintendent Alberto Carvalho, also expressed sadness and sent prayers to family members of the deceased.
In a statement, City of Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado said, “I was honored to give the key to the City to Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez as a rising star and proud son of Miami. My condolences to his family and to the Miami Marlins. His death is a huge loss for our community.”
Adding to the absence of the pitcher, video boards at an empty Marlins Park broadcast a large 16 — Fernandez’s jersey number — along with his name. The home game against the Braves was canceled in the wake of Fernandez’s sudden death.
Sunday evening, dozens at a time continued to drop by Marlins Park to honor Fernandez and share their favorite memories. “There’s your living proof that this guy was awesome,” said Zwanzger as he held up a baseball signed by the pitcher. “Not every player is going to sign for you.”
Zwanzger said Fernandez was always willing to talk after a game. “The guy came up to me, talked to me, ‘Hi, how are you? Did you have a good time today?'” he said. “That’s stuff you expect your mom and dad to ask you, not stuff you expect a professional baseball player to ask you.”
Sunday’s game cancellation was a painful reminder of the loss these fans are feeling. “It feels like I lost a family member,” said Zwanzger. “You don’t replace Jose Fernandez. You don’t, and you can’t compare him to anybody.”
Fernandez posted a photo of his pregnant girlfriend last week on Instagram, announcing the couple’s first child.
Fernandez was only 24 years old. An investigation into the boating accident continues.
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