Jose Fernandez was a Cuban-born right-handed pitcher for the Miami Marlins, who was known as “Niño” by his teammates and fans due to his passionately boyish attitude toward the game of baseball, which was apparent he loved as much as anything when he stepped on the diamond. Born in Cuba, Fernandez had previously been caught while trying to escape the country three times before he successfully made a hard fought voyage to the United States in 2008, at the age of 16. Following his extreme success in high school, he was drafted in the first round of the 2011 MLB (Major League Baseball) draft.
After honing his skills in the minor leagues, Fernandez made his major league debut on April 7, 2013. That year, he was named to the 2013 MLB All-Star Game, won the National League Rookie of the Year, and finished third in the voting for the Cy Young Award. Fernandez’ throwing arm took a turn for the worst when he had no choice but to undergo “Tommy John” surgery during the following season, but he would slowly and surely bounce back. The 2015 Major League Baseball season was a series of ups and downs for Fernandez, who spent a large portion of the year on the disabled list. When he was on the mount that year however, he managed to record a major league record for consecutive wins at home by a single pitcher with an impressive number of seventeen.
During the 2016 season, it was apparent that the arm was back in business, as Fernandez was named to the MLB All-Star Game for a second time. In his final outing, on September 20, 2016, he delivered eight shutout innings in a 1-0 victory over the Washington Nationals. Five days later, on September 25, Jose Fernandez was killed in a boating accident off the coast of Miami Beach. Two others also died during the tragedy. That day, the Marlins cancelled their game against division rivals Atlanta Braves. The following day, the Miami Marlins announced that they would retire Fernandez’ jersey number, 16.
Now, a half year later, the Miami Marlins organization has announced that they will be “planning a memorial to their late ace” that will include a bronze statue of the Cuban-born athlete. “We want him to be memorialized here at Marlins Park, because he is forever a Marlin,” team President David Samson said. William Behrends, the mastermind behind the Willie Mays statue in Francisco, will be the sculptor of Jose Fernandez’ bronze likeness, and the project isn’t expected to be completed for another six months.
For his career, he had a 38–17 win-loss record for a .691 winning percentage and a 2.58 ERA