Even though four months have passed since the death of Jose Fernandez, the mourning continues for the Marlins.
That’s why two team executives traveled to Cuba earlier this week to attend a Mass held in Fernandez’s hometown of Santa Clara.
“We’ve said he was family and always will be, and we meant it,” said Marlins president David Samson, who attended the service with Michael Hill, president of baseball operations. “Mike and I didn’t give it a thought. We felt it was definitely appropriate to go there.”
The Marlins lost their Cuban-born ace on Sept. 25 when Fernandez and two others were killed in a boating accident.
While spring training approaches and the front office has spent much of the offseason trying to fill the mammoth void left by Fernandez on the team’s roster, they are continuing to pay their respects to one of the best pitchers ever to wear the Marlins uniform.
Samson said he and Hill spent two days in Cuba, during which time they not only attended the Mass that was held there for him, but visited the Little League fields where Fernandez learned to play baseball. Coaches and friends shared stories about Fernandez when he was young.
“The most amazing part of it was we heard he was the same vibrant personality as a 7-year-old,” Samson said. “At 7, he was talking about how he was going to be one of the best pitchers in the world.”
Samson said one of the coaches told him that Fernandez was so crazed about baseball that they tried unsuccessfully to rein him in.
“They would pitch him in a Little League game, and then he’d say he was going home and (instead) go to another Little League field and pitch again,” Samson said.
Samson said he and Hill also visited the house belonging to Fernandez’s grandmother, who showed them pictures of the pitcher when he was a little boy in Cuba.
Samson said the hour-long Mass was “emotional.”