MIAMI — On Monday afternoon, Jose Fernandez sat in a black cosmetic chair outward Nene’s Barber Shop in Little Havana with a Marlins-Mets sheet folded in his pocket, anguish a dear immature round star who common his name.
One day earlier, Fernandez, 53, was sitting during home when a internal NBC associate cut in with violation news: a other Fernandez, a 24-year-old Cuban ace of a Miami Marlins, had been killed in an overnight boating accident.
Though a dual were not related, a news immediately took a elder Fernandez behind to his possess tour from Cuba to Miami, and as he reflected on his fraudulent 90-mile thoroughfare conflicting a Straits of Florida, a pain in his heart usually grew.
Like a Miami pitcher, Fernandez attempted unsuccessfully to rush for a United States before his protected attainment in 1991 — a Marlins’ Fernandez successfully defected on his fourth try, in 2008 — and over a 4 years given his namesake’s vital joining call-up, Fernandez, like so many others in a area, has reveled in a fun a shining righty brought to this tight-knit Cuban community.
“It’s unequivocally a partial of all of us, baseball,” Fernandez said. “When you’re vocalization with a people on a street, in a park, wherever, everybody speaks about baseball. It’s important.”
Yet on this day, round — or during slightest Monday night’s diversion conflicting New York — was a farthest thing from Fernandez’s mind. And while Fernandez typically savors a event to see dual or 3 games a year live, he had no seductiveness in being during this one, a start Fernandez should have been making.
“When we adore round or any sport, we have to be unhappy when something like that happens,” Fernandez said, indicating during a male walking along SW 8th St. — improved famous as Calle Ocho — in front of a coiffeur shop. “I don’t know you, we don’t know him, though we’re all harm by what happened.
“I was ostensible to be there in a track today,” Fernandez added, fluttering his palm north adult SW 16th Avenue, toward Marlins Park, while tugging during his navy blue round top with his giveaway hand. “But we can’t. I’m too sad.”
Instead of going, himself, Fernandez was giving his sheet to a friend, and a slightest we can wish is that Fernandez’s crony done it to a game. Because if he did, he witnessed something truly special during a Marlins’ 7-3 victory.
It started prolonged before initial pitch, outward a building, where fans combined a commemorative to Fernandez nearby one of a track gates — a collection of posters, hats, shirts and balloons lonesome in messages for a late star.
Next to a tabernacle sat dozens of flower bouquets left in Fernandez’s memory, and on a conflicting side of a wall, fans of all opposite ages and ethnicities waited in line to baloney a summary or a prayer.
“His story means so many to a Cuban community, though for any round fan it means usually as much,” 25-year-old James Carras pronounced as he waited to leave a note for Hernandez on a Sharpie-covered wall. “The cross-section of all South Florida sports teams is that you’ll find folks from any opposite background, and it’s good to see this kind of response.
“This is positively beautiful,” Carras added. “I pronounced a small request on a other side, and we have to pointer a wall, and we wish they keep this here for a prolonged time.”
Once inside a stadium, fans were met by constant, romantic reminders of a star mislaid too soon.
Fernandez’s smiling face dotted probably any video residence in a park, and in a outfield corners, his No. 16 could be seen from any chair in a house. Then before initial pitch, a Marlins respected Fernandez with a touching reverence that enclosed a sole trumpeter personification a honest delivery of “Take Me Out To The Ballgame” over a montage of Fernandez photos.
After a impulse of silence, a teams took a margin for a stirring delivery of a inhabitant anthem, and from there, players from both teams embraced on a margin for several minutes. Afterward, a whole Marlins cave — any actor and manager wearing a newly-retired No. 16 Fernandez jersey — collected around a mound, where they any scribbled a array 16 in a clay.
That scene, alone, was adequate to make any hair on your neck mount up, though afterwards before many fans could even settle in for a bottom half of a first, second baseman and leadoff male Dee Gordon gave a throng a goosebump-inducing impulse few will ever forget, promulgation a third representation he saw from Bartolo Colon into a right margin seats for his initial home run of a season.
The announced throng for a diversion was 26,933, though as Gordon done his surreal lope around a bases, afterwards dipped into a cave in tears, you’d have sworn it was a packaged residence for Game 7 of a World Series.
“I told a boys, if y’all don’t trust in God, we competence as good start,” Gordon told FOX Sports Florida’s Craig Minervini of a home run after a game. “I don’t have kids, so that’s a best impulse of my life, to strike a home run for him.”
The subjection was on in a second inning, with a Marlins adding 4 some-more runs. That was followed by dual some-more in a third, including a Christian Yelich run on Justin Bour’s initial career triple. And while there were moments where a tragedy in a building ratcheted adult — many particularly when a Mets, trailing by five, installed a bases with one out in a sixth — a outcome never seemed in doubt.
Then after a final out was recorded, a Marlins players returned to a mound, any of them withdrawal their shawl alongside a diversion round as a farewell to their depressed brother.
“I consider they unequivocally wanted to respect Jose, we know, a approach he played and how he went about that fun that he had when he played, and that certainty and that energy,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “And we unequivocally consider that was a concentration of these guys.
“We speak about these situations being family and these guys, this is their family within this locker room,” Mattingly added. “You travel, we play, we go by things, it’s their usually protected place, and we consider you’ve seen that. … This conditions kind of galvanizes we to come together.”
Beyond a field, a lapse to round after Sunday’s canceled array culmination conflicting a Atlanta Braves has also helped move together a Cuban village ravaged by Fernandez’s passing.
Back in Little Havana, 69-year-old Juan Fernandez, also no propinquity to a late Marlins star, removed Fernandez’s impact on a area while articulate with a organisation of friends during Maximo Gomez Park.
“He mattered to everybody,” he said. “Everybody here is Cuban. we base for a Yankees, though he done me like a Marlins. Because if we can play, we can play.
“It’s tragic, though what can do you?” combined Fernandez, who came to a U.S. from Cuba in 1967. “I know everybody has to die, though that’s too young.”
In a same park, Alejandro Diaz described Fernandez’s genocide as a village losing one of a own.
“You never design something like this,” Diaz said. “I’m 41 years aged and we have a son, and we never wish to suppose someone else’s son dying. But he was a best of a community. He went from zero to where he was, a best pitcher in baseball.
“Miami is like Cuba,” Diaz continued. “We feel here like we are there, and he was pristine Cuban — a approach that he talks, a approach that he acts, he’s real.”
As he walked divided from a diversion of dominoes he was watching, Diaz also removed his possess childhood flourishing adult in Cuba, regulating his knowledge personification round as a child to illustrate a fun with that Fernandez played a game.
“When we was there, it was a inhabitant competition and everybody played,” pronounced Diaz, who came to a U.S. by approach of Argentina in 2002. “You finished propagandize and we found a square of timber and a sock — you’d hurl it like this, like a round — and you’d play.
“Even when we played (competitively), you’d go to a contest and they’d give we dual balls, and if they get mislaid or broken or something, that’s it, diversion over,” Daiz continued. “And we had to share gloves given you’d usually have 9 gloves, and infrequently you’d have to wear a righty on a lefty or a lefty on a righty given that’s all we had. It was a usually way.
“It’s something that grows in your heart, small by little,” Diaz combined of Cubans’ adore for baseball, notwithstanding a miss of resources. “And when we are there, if you’re a player, we grow adult anticipating we can come over (to a U.S.) like Jose did and do what we love.”
Unfortunately, there was some-more unhappiness than fun during Marlins Park Monday night, though there wasn’t a essence who left a track doubt what Jose Fernandez meant to his group and his fans.
And while Fernandez might have thrown his final pitch, it’s clear his bequest will live on for generations to come.
“I came here tonight to compensate loyalty to him, and like so many other folks that are here — they’ve been here given ’93,” Carras said. “They were there in ’97 and there in 2003, and here we are today. It’s a jubilee of his life and his use to a diversion of baseball, and we usually wish he can pass on his suggestion to us and that we can all live a approach he was living.”
You can follow Sam Gardner on Twitter or email him during firstname.lastname@example.org.