The Marlins will be represented at the All-Star Game for the 25th time on Tuesday when the Midsummer Classic is played at Marlins Park in Little Havana.
Gary Sheffield and Bryan Harvey were part of the Marlins’ first All-Star Game at Baltimore’s Oriole Park at Camden Yards in 1993.
Last year, four Marlins (Marcell Ozuna, Jose Fernandez, Fernando Rodney and A.J. Ramos) were part of the All-Star Game in San Diego.
Ozuna and Giancarlo Stanton will play for the National League team Tuesday as Justin Bour joined Stanton in Monday’s Home Run Derby.
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Since June 18, the Miami Herald has looked back at the top All-Stars who have represented the Marlins — from Sheffield to Ozuna — heading into the game.
As the All-Star Game he would have been thrilled to be a part of approaches, the Herald recalls the All-Star career of Jose Fernandez.
Jose Fernandez said he couldn’t wait for the All-Star Game to be played in his home ballpark, vowing he would toe the rubber as the starting pitcher on baseball’s biggest summer stage.
Although he will not be at Marlins Park on Tuesday night for the 88th playing of the Midsummer Classic, Fernandez’s spirit and memory will play a big part in what will be a celebration of baseball — and, likely, a celebration of Fernandez himself.
Fernandez, 24, played in his second and final All-Star Game last July.
In the early morning hours of Sept. 25, a boat reportedly piloted by Fernandez crashed into the jetty off Miami Beach at a high rate of speed killing Fernandez and his two passengers — friends Emilio Macias and Eduardo Rivero.
The loss hit the Marlins as well as South Florida and the baseball community hard.
When the Marlins returned to their home field on Sept. 26 in a game against the Mets, the emotions were open and raw.
Fernandez’s personality was as big as his talent and his teammates had trouble playing through their pain.
The Marlins all wore Fernandez’s No. 16 with his last name on the back that night. Other teams around baseball hung their jersey with his name and number in their dugout — including the Mets.
“I just kept looking over at the ribbon board, kept seeing his name, just kept saying how is he not here?” said Dee Gordon, who rounded the bases in tears after hitting a first inning homer.
“Every time I saw his number and name, I kept hearing his voice.”
On Tuesday, fans will file by the makeshift-turned-permanent tribute to Fernandez on the west plaza of the ballpark.
Miami outfielders Marcell Ozuna and Giancarlo Stanton are in the starting lineup and will have the black No. 16 patches on the front of their Marlins’ jerseys as they have throughout this season.
“We’re going to dedicate the [game] for our brother who passed away,” Ozuna told the Miami Herald earlier this month after being voted in as a starter.
“And we’re going to play hard for him. Everything we do when we cross the line, we’re going to give it for him.”
Fernandez will be remembered in some way Tuesday night before and likely during the game.
The Marlins haven’t forgotten their ace pitcher and they likely never will.
His locker, with all of its contents, is encased in glass inside the Miami clubhouse.
“My thoughts are always with Jose,” Stanton said of the tribute. “It’s nothing new today from every other day.”
A native of Cuba, Fernandez tried to escape his communist island home numerous times (he even spent time in prison for trying to leave) before finally succeeding in a harrowing fourth attempt — a rough passage to Mexico in which he dove into the water to save his mother.
Fernandez ended up in Tampa and was a star pitcher for Alonso High School where he led the Ravens to two state championships.
The Marlins were so impressed, they made him their first round pick — 14th overall — in 2011.
After spending parts of two seasons in the Marlins’ minor league system, Fernandez made his big-league debut on April 7, 2013 at Citi Field in New York despite pitching just one game above the Single-A level.
He was dynamic in that debut as he retired the first 10 batters he faced and struck out eight in five innings of work.
He became an instant star just as Dontrelle Willis was in 2003.
As was the case with Willis, Fernandez won the NL Rookie of the Year award.
“I look at José and I can’t avoid comparing him to the D-Train,” said then-Marlins manager Mike Redmond, who caught Willis as a rookie.
“I see it in his look, his confidence, in the joy with which he looks at life. Every time he pitches, something almost magical happens, something good is expected and his teammates feel that way. José gives us a big chance of winning.”
In just four seasons with the Marlins, he became a fan favorite and one of the brightest stars in all of baseball.
Fernandez needed reconstructive Tommy John surgery on his right elbow in May 2014 yet battled back and returned in 2015.
He went 22-9 in his return, every time he pitched in Miami became a ‘Jose Day.’
“People are gonna remember him on the mound,” closer A.J. Ramos told the Herald.
“His game spoke more than anything else. When he was out there, it was a show.”
An All-Star as a rookie in 2013, Fernandez joined an exclusive grouping of pitchers to play in the game before their 21st birthday. The others: Bob Feller, Dwight Gooden, Fernando Valenzuela and Jerry Walker.
“It’s an honor to be mentioned with those guys,” Fernandez said.
In the game, Fernandez was fantastic as he struck out Dustin Pedroia and Chris Davis while getting Miguel Cabrera to pop out.
Last year in San Diego, Fernandez was one of four Marlins who made the game at San Diego’s Petco Park
Fernandez walked David Ortiz in what would be the future Hall of Fame slugger’s final All-Star at-bat.
As Ortiz was replaced by a pinch runner and came off the mound to a thunderous ovation, Fernandez tipped his cap from the mound.
“It was an amazing experience for me,” Fernandez said after the game.
“I was nervous because I couldn’t believe I was actually pitching to him. It was just great. He signed the jersey that I brought for him.
“His was the first baseball jersey that I bought when I came to the United States.
“It was a humbling experience seeing how time really flies by.”
CELEBRATING THE MARLINS ALL-STARS
All-Star Tuesday, June 11 — Jose Fernandez (2013, 2016)