Yesterday, September 25, 2016, was a very sad day for sports fans. The day first started out with the absolute tragic death of Marlins star pitcher Jose Fernandez. Fernandez died in a horrible boating accident in Miami in which himself and two other friends were killed when their boat went 30 feet in the air and crashed on some rocks. Fernandez lived in a way many people should model their lives after, he had an absolute joy for the life he was living and got to play his favorite sport for a living as well. Jose Fernandez tried to defect from Cuba 3 times before finally having a successful attempt and making it to Florida at the age of 15. Along the perilous journey, Fernandez’s mother fell overboard when the boat they were on hit a rough patch of waves. Jose fearlessly jumped into the water to save his mother from drowning, proving that even at a young age he had a bigger heart than most people in this world.
When Fernandez made it to Florida, he settled down in a small county just outside of Tampa Bay. The first jersey he ever bought was of David Ortiz and he has even said that Ortiz was his idol growing up. Fernandez was selected with the 14th overall pick in the 2011 MLB draft by the Miami Marlins. Jose Fernandez made his Marlins debut on April 7, 2013 against the Mets in which he had 8 strikeouts. He had an amazing season that year and was selected to the 2013 all star game, a game in which he had a perfect 6th inning that included striking out Dustin Pedroia and Chris Davis and also getting Miguel Cabrera to pop out. In July of that same year, Fernandez set a Marlins rookie record for most strikeouts in a game when he struck out 14 Cleveland Indians. Before that game, he struck out 13 Pittsburgh Pirates and those two games made him the sixth pitcher since the year 2000 to strike out 13 or more batters in consecutive games. At the end of his rookie campaign, he was sixth in the NL in strikeouts and second in ERA. He finished 3rd in the NL Cy Young voting behind Adam Wainright and Clayton Kershaw. He did take home the 2013 NL Rookie of the Year though.
In his final start, Fernandez went 8 shoutout innings while allowing 3 hits but also striking out 12 batters. When the news broke of his tragic death the whole sports world stood still to mourn this amazing human being. The one thing Fernandez cared more about than baseball was his loving family and has just announced on Instagram that he was expecting a child with his new wife. He had a special bond with other MLB players from the Dominican Republic and Cuba as well. Yasiel Puig, David Ortiz and Giancarlo Stanton all penned touching farewell messages to their late friend yesterday on their Twitter and Instagram accounts. What really is the saddest part in all of this is the fact that Fernandez’s child will never get to meet his or her amazing father and really experience is love and joy for baseball and life. Many MLB teams hung his jersey in their dugouts to pay homage for such a young life taken far too soon. Please just remember that tomorrow is promised to no one. I fully believe that Fernandez be somehow considered for the baseball hall of fame.
Late Sunday night it was also reported that the king of golf, Arnold Palmer, had passed away at the age of 87.
Palmer paved the way for the entire sport of golf. If we didn’t have the king, we wouldn’t have Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and even Jack Nicklaus. Palmer was the son of a groundskeeper in Pennsylvania and learned the game of golf from his father who was suffering from polio. His first tour win came at the 1955 Canadian Open in which he won $2400 for his efforts. A lot of people saw him as the next star in golf after his win and it didn’t take him long to cement his superstardom. Palmer won seven major championships including the Masters an incredible 4 times. The one thing he will be remembered for is his charisma which made a lot of people want to watch golf and is the main reason people watch golf today. Winning the Masters 4 times is truly impressive but many look at Palmer winning the Open Championship as the true peaking point in his career. Many US players didn’t travel to Great Britain for the tournament due to its travel requirements, small purse prizes and style of courses but Palmer was convinced that if he won the open like legends like Ben Hogan, Bobby Jones, Walter Hagen and Sam Snead did before him then he would take his rightful spot as the top name and gold. What happened? He did what he said he was going to do and won the 1961 Open Championship.
His place in pop culture is very important as well. He invented a drink named after him that is a mix of sweet tea and lemonade. Palmer said that he got the idea for the drink by visiting a diner and from then on it became an American treasure. Many people should drink an Arnold Palmer to honor the king of golf and in many people’s mind, the greatest golfer to ever step foot on a course.
To two sports heroes, thank you for your sacrifice for the games you loved and thank you for the memories, you will never be forgotten.