Most of us love baseball because of a family connection — our dad, mom, grandpa, grandma, uncle, aunt or cousin sparked our interest in the game as kids in some way, then that interest took hold and grew. For me, there are several family members: my Grandpa who taught me to play catch, my Dad who taught me to keep score and, later, my Uncle Jim who taught me about the Cardinals and their history.
For Jose Fernandez of the Miami Marlins, it was his grandma.
I will readily admit to not knowing much beyond the basics about Fernandez — his terrific stats during this rookie season, sure (especially since I picked him up for my fantasy baseball team early on), his age and that he’s Cuban. Plus I knew how he did against the Cardinals this season: he won one game (the first of the Marlins three-game June sweep in Miami) where he struck out 10, and lost at Busch Stadium as Matt Holliday homered and stole second in a rundown as Carlos Beltran stole home. Beyond that, though, there is only so much baseball I have time to keep up with, and the Cardinals rookie pitchers were my priority.
So, last week, when I heard the story of Fernandez’s surprise reunion with his grandma the day before he was named National League Rookie of the Year, I was incredibly touched. Take a look at the photo above — even that tells you at least part of the story.
If you aren’t familiar with what happened, here’s a brief synopsis by Joe Frisaro of Marlins.com from Nov. 10 (the day before the Rookie of the Year results were announced):
The Marlins’ ace reached the big leagues at age 20, and he became the Marlins’ lone All-Star. Now the hard-throwing right-hander is a finalist for the National League Rookie of the Year, which will be announced Monday, and the NL Cy Young Award, to be unveiled Wednesday.
As much as he accomplished on the field, nothing compares to the personal dream come true for Fernandez on Sunday. To his surprise, Fernandez’s grandmother, Olga, arrived from Cuba.
The reunion — complete with photos — was announced via Twitter by the Marlins.
“She’s the love of my life … my everything,” Fernandez said.
Yet words are nothing compared to actually seeing the reunion. While the picture tells part of the story, nothing compares to seeing it unfold via video, which you can see here. (Warning: tearjerker moments ahead, for sure, and it’s worth the five-plus minutes to see the entire thing.)
If you are interested in reading more about Jose Fernandez (as I was), here are a couple of good pieces from the All-Star break in July:
- From Dan Le Betard of the Miami Herald, Stars align for Miami Marlins’ Jose Fernandez
- From Jordan Conn at Grantland, From Cuba With Heat
Those family ties so many of us have when it comes to baseball reach across generations and even across cultures, which we knew even before learning more about Jose Fernandez and his grandma.
Yet it still creates a greater appreciation for, and love of, the game to see such stories unfold.
Christine Coleman is the lead writer for Aaron Miles’ Fastball. Follow her on Twitter, @CColeman802, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Also follow @AMilesFastball for the latest updates.