MLB star José Fernández, 24, dies in boating accident
The Miami Marlins announced on Sunday that José Fernández, one of Major League Baseball’s premier starting pitchers, was killed in a boating accident near Miami Beach.
A United States Coast Guard crew on patrol at 3:30 a.m. discovered a 32-foot boat overturned with two bodies underneath it and one in the water nearby. The names of the other two people found, friends of Fernández’s who were not athletes, were withheld by authorities. The dead ranged in age from 24 to 27 years of age.
The boat, which was not being driven by Fernández and did not belong to him, is believed to have been traveling at full speed when it struck a rock jetty and capsized. Alcohol and drugs did not immediately appear to have played a role, according to authorities.
“The Miami Marlins organization is devastated by the tragic loss of José Fernández. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this very difficult time,” the team said in a statement made on the morning of the incident.
The passing of Fernández prompted the cancellation of Miami’s series finale on Sunday with the Braves at Marlins Park.
“All of Baseball is shocked and saddened by the sudden passing of Miami Marlins pitcher Jose Fernández,” MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement. “He was one of our game’s great young stars who made a dramatic impact on and off the field since his debut in 2013. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, the Miami Marlins organization and all of the people he touched in his life.”
Fernández’s story was the stuff of sports movies. He made three unsuccessful attempts to defect to the U.S. from Cuba, before making it when he was a 15-year-old in 2008. He saved his mother from drowning when she fell overboard on their way to Mexico.
He became a young star while pitching at Braulio Alonso High School in Tampa, Fla., before being chosen 14th overall by the Marlins in 2011 MLB draft. Despite having never pitched above Class-A, he was called up to the big leagues in 2013. He went on to make the All-Star team and won the National League Rookie of the Year Award.
“Six years ago I was trying to come to the United States and I was in jail, thinking about one day playing in the big leagues,” Fernández said as he accepted the award at the baseball writers’ dinner in New York. “I’m here now, next to all these guys.”
Fernandez, though only 24, was believed by many to be on track for a Hall of Fame career. He had a 95-mile-per-hour fastball and was considered to be an elite purveyor of four pitches. In each of his four seasons, he had an E.R.A. below 3.00. Overall, he had a record of 38-17 with a 2.58 E.R.A. in 76 starts, with 589 strikeouts in just 471 ⅓ innings.