On What Would Have Been His 25th Birthday, The Marlins Were Introduced To Jose Fernandez's 5 Month Old Daughter
MiamiHerald- Dee Gordon entered the Marlins clubhouse on Monday holding a crying infant, walked her over to Jose Fernandez’s old corner locker, and showed her the uniforms and cleats that belonged to the father she’ll never know.
Penelope, the late pitcher’s five-month-old daughter, was wearing a miniature version of his uniform with “Fernandez” written across the back. Players stopped what they were doing to watch the scene unfold.
Eventually, they all made their way to Marlins Park. It was there that Gordon, the Marlins’ second baseman, gave Penelope a tour of the team’s batting cages and clubhouse.
“I was hitting in the cage and Dee brought her in,” Rojas said. “I wasn’t expecting her at all. Right away, a lot of emotions. [Marcell] Ozuna was hitting in the other cage. We stopped what we were doing. It was really cool to see her and remember Jose."
When word reached the visitors clubhouse that Fernandez’s family and daughter were at the ballpark, Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper and pitcher Gio Gonzalez put in a request to see her. Fernandez, Harper and Gonzalez all shared the same agent, Scott Boras.
Afterward, Harper thanked Boras’ Miami-based assistant, Alex Morin, for arranging the visit. “Thanks. I needed this a lot,” Harper wrote in a text to Morin.
“For us, it means the world because he’s been missed the whole time,” Rojas said. “We’ve been playing through it, but we’ll never forget him. I know it was supposed to be his birthday today. Wherever he is, we know he’s with us."
I got to be honest, I could barely type that headline without tearing up again, never mind watching the video of Jose Fernandez's teammates - who had to feel emotionally conflicted by being introduced to a 5 month old that never got to meet her dad and their friend - react to the presence of his last living legacy. I don't want to speak for the Marlins players because I couldn't possibly understand what that situation feels like, but I would imagine that looking in the face of that adorable child that unfortunately brings back the tragic memory that serves as the reason she was there in the first place absolutely had to be bittersweet. I'm sure it was liberating to get whatever tears had still yet to be cried out of their system, but it had to be absolutely heart breaking to watch a toddler reach for the loving face of the father that somehow already feels like a distant memory.
I don't think the reminder of a universally beloved player leaving us too early was necessary for a team that likely doesn't go a day without remembering the type of talent he brought to the field and the type of bubbly personality he brought to the clubhouse. Unfortunately, I think I speak for most casual baseball fans when I say that it comes as a mild surprise every time we are reminded that Jose Fernandez will never again take the mound in Miami. With the whirlwind that is the sports news cycle, it's almost as if the disastrous death of a 24 year old stud pitcher with transcendent talent came and went with the season(s). If there is anything to be taken from that scene yesterday it's that he's definitely gone, but - more importantly - he couldn't possibly be less forgotten.