The baseball world Sunday mourned the loss of Jose Fernandez, an icon to countless Cuban-Americans and baseball fans around the country.
Fernandez, an ace pitcher on Major League Baseball's Miami Marlins, was killed in a boating accident in Florida early Sunday, spokesman Lorenzo Veloz of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission told a news conference. Fernandez, 24, was one of three men killed in the accident.
Fernandez famously immigrated to the United States from Cuba as a refugee when he was 15. On the dangerous trip overseas, Fernandez dove into the water to save his mother, who had fallen off of their boat, from drowning. As a baseball player, Fernandez quickly became a star, winning over the hearts of millions of fans, especially Cuban-American fans, with his dominant performances and playful attitude on the field. Fernandez's joyful attitude toward pitching led teammates to coin the term "Jose Day" for dates he was pitching.
The Marlins canceled their scheduled home game Sunday against the Atlanta Braves. Meanwhile, Miami's NFL team, the Dolphins, announced they would hold a moment of silence to honor Fernandez before their game Sunday against the Buffalo Bills.
The baseball community took the loss hard. Eduardo Perez, a close friend and former hitting coach to Fernandez, emotionally recounted his impact on the sport on ESPN Sunday morning.
"The percentage of people in the stadium when he pitched, the percentage of people watching on TV went up when he pitched," Perez said. "He had already done everything else. He just wanted to have fun. He played the game. He didn't work the game, he played the game."
Many other baseball personalities, teams and celebrities shared their thoughts about the tragic news on social media: