On Sunday morning, the baseball world lost Marlins pitcher José Fernández, one of its biggest and brightest young stars, after he was killed in a boating accident. At 24, Fernández had already solidified himself as one of the best pitchers in the big leagues after just four seasons, and it appeared as though he had a Hall of Fame career ahead of him.
Fernandez and two other men were killed very early Sunday after the boat they were traveling in off the coast of Miami crashed into a jetty. And according to reports, the incident could have been even more devastating than it was if several of Fernández's Marlins teammates had taken him up on his offer to come out on the boat that night.
Yahoo! MLB columnist Jeff Passan reports that Fernández asked some of his teammates if they wanted to accompany him after the team's game against the Braves on Saturday night, but they all declined:
"After Saturday’s game, Fernandez had asked a number of teammates to join him on the boat. One by one, they declined. And there they were Monday, back in uniform, the uniform he was supposed to be wearing, too, thinking that if not for the instinct that told them to say no, it could’ve been them."
Marlins outfielder Marcell Ozuna was one of the players who told Fernández he couldn't go. Ozuna later told the Miami Herald that he asked Fernández not to go out on the boat after the game. "That night I told him, ‘Don’t go out,'" he said. "Everybody knew he was crazy about that boat and loved being out on the water. I told him I couldn’t go out that night because I had the kids and my wife waiting for me."
Ozuna also shared how he felt when he woke up on Sunday and heard the news about Fernández. "He told me if I didn’t hear from him by 10 a.m. [on Sunday morning] to call him and wake him up so he could get back to the ballpark on time for the game," he said. "I told him, ‘Yeah, no problem, I’ll call you.’ I woke up Sunday and that’s when I found out. I cried and cried."