MIAMI — Miami Marlins ace Jose Fernandez made his big league debut against the New York Mets on April 7, 2013. For five innings, he baffled hitters with fastballs and curves, surrendering one run and striking out eight on his way to being named National League Rookie of the Year.
On Monday night, when Fernandez was to retake the mound against the Mets, his teammates are planning to wear his number — 16 — as baseball mourns one of its brightest stars. Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria says the franchise will then retire his number.
Jeffrey Loria: no one will wear #16 for the Marlins again.
— Tyler Kepner (@TylerKepner) September 26, 2016
Fernandez, who defected from his native Cuba at 15, was killed early Sunday in a boating accident at the entrance of Miami Harbor.
The Marlins will take the field at Marlins Stadium one day after their game against the Atlanta Braves was canceled because of the tragedy.
A pregame moment of silence is planned and — for the seventh-inning stretch — a lone trumpeter will play “Take me out to the ballgame,” MLB.com reported.
News of his death has stunned the baseball community, with players and fans alike taking to social media to express their grief.
Veteran baseball reporter Ken Rosenthal tweeted about Fernandez on Monday.
“Something for MLB to consider: A Jose Fernandez spirit award, presented to the player who best exemplifies love and passion for the game.”
Adam Conley, who was originally scheduled to pitch in Sunday’s game, will take the mound on Monday.
Conley tweeted a photo of himself and Fernandez in the uniform of the minor league Greenboro, North Carolina, Grasshoppers, with the message: “You were family, miss you brother.”
At an emotional news conference Sunday, Fernandez’s death was described as a loss to baseball, the Miami community where he lived and beyond.
“The magnanimity of his personality transcended culture, religion and race,” Marlins President David Samson said at a news conference where he was flanked by team officials.
“Jose is a member of this family for all time,” Samson said. “His story is representative of a story of hope, and of love and of faith, and no one will ever let that story die.”
Fernandez was born in Santa Clara, Cuba, and defected to the United States in 2008.
He was drafted by the Marlins in 2011 and went on to become the franchise’s star pitcher and a two-time All-Star.
But his story was about more than success on the field.
In 2008, Fernandez made his fourth attempt to flee Cuba, according to a 2013 Miami Herald story.
He’d been jailed for a previous failed attempt and, this time, was attempting to reach America via Mexico with his mother and sister.
Once on the open water, the newspaper reported, someone fell off the boat, and Fernandez, a good swimmer, asked no questions; he jumped in to save the person. It turned out to be his mother, Maritza.
Early Sunday, Fernandez and two other men were found dead after their boat was discovered at the entrance of Miami Harbor, according to Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission spokesman Lorenzo Veloz.
Coast Guard personnel on patrol noticed the vessel upside down on the north end of a rocky jetty early Sunday, Veloz said. Divers recovered two bodies under the boat, and a third victim was found on the rocks.
The Miami Marlins tweeted on Monday: “There’s a game to be played. He’d want it that way.”