MIAMI – Miami Marlins star pitcher José Fernández was killed early Sunday in a boating accident, Florida authorities said
Fernández, who was 24, and two other men were found dead after their 32-foot boat was discovered crashed near Miami Beach, said Fish and Wildlife Commission public information officer Lorenzo Veloz.
The bodies were found by Coast Guard personnel about 3:15 a.m., Veloz said, adding that names of the other two men, who were also in their 20s, were being withheld until relatives were notified.
The Miami team announced Fernández’s death in a statement: “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 Marlins’ game against the Atlanta Braves Sunday was canceled as a result of the news.
Fernández was born in Cuba and defected to the United States as a 15-year-old in 2008, going on to become his franchise’s star pitcher.
Named National League Rookie of the Year in 2013, he also became a two-time All-Star.
Baseball world stunned
News of his death sent shock waves through the baseball community.
“I’ve never met anyone who extracted more joy, more passion out of what he did than José Fernández,” baseball analyst Buster Olney said on ESPN. “When you watched him pitch, he loved it so much. He had so much emotion.”
“He’s sort of the American dream for the Cuban baseball player,” Dan LeBatard, co-host of ESPN’s “Highly Questionable,” said. “This kid is a symbol for Cuban(-American) life and the things that can be accomplished in this country.”
Marcus Stroman, a pitcher for the Toronto Blue Jays, tweeted: “Sick to my stomach. Can’t believe this. #RIPJoseFernandez.”
Former MLB pitcher Dan Haren tweeted: “Jose Fernandez is one of the most genuine guys I’ve ever played with. He loved life, he loved baseball… he will be missed dearly.”
Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred issued a statement saying that “all of baseball is shocked and saddened by the sudden passing of Miami Marlins pitcher José Fernández.
“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.”