By Andrew Holman | Sports Editor
A 24-year-old ace. A big league pitcher. A two-time All-Star. A rookie of the year. A role model in the Miami and Cuban communities. A heroic son. A loving grandson. A soon-to-be father.
Those are just some of the titles given to José Fernández. All of those are things to which he should be very proud, but if there’s one overarching title for Fernández, it’s that he was a kid at heart. It was evident every single time he stepped out onto the baseball diamond.
At 24 years old, Fernández was arguably the best young pitcher Major League Baseball had to offer. But the thing is, even though he found success as a Rookie of the Year winner and an All-Star, Fernández was just a kid playing the game he loved.
Watch him. Spend 15 minutes of your day and watch highlights of Fernández on the mound in that Marlins uniform. He will put you in sheer awe with the spectacular movement and velocity of his pitches. But if you take a step back and focus a little less on the balls and strikes, you might just see the kid I’m talking about.
The kid who took the mound every night with a smile on his face because he loved the game. The kid who pumped his fists after a critical strikeout because he found thrill in competition. The kid who put a smile on the faces of all of his teammates and coaches each night.
That’s what I’ll remember about José Fernández. I wasn’t lucky enough to call him a friend or a teammate. In fact, all I know for sure that we had in common was that we were fellow kids chasing big dreams. But boy did Fernández make a heck of an impact through a television screen.
Yeah I’ll miss watching him pitch, even against my beloved Indians. But more importantly, I’ll miss watching him inspire.
I’ll miss watching that kid step out on the dirt with a smile on his face and put his all into every single pitch because he truly loved what he did.
José, you are gone way too soon. But if there’s one thing you should know as you settle into your new home in Heaven, it’s that you inspired millions of kids across the world. You’ve inspired them to chase their dreams and to love what they do all while staying kids at heart.
And for that, I say thank you, José. We will miss your enthusiasm.
May you rest in peace, kid.