The wound of Marlins pitcher José Fernández’s death is still fresh, and its pain will be carried by members of the Miami organization, players and fans across baseball. The outpouring of grief that has resulted in the past couple of days has not been simply because Fernández was such an immensely talented individual, but because he was by all accounts as warm, genuine and joyful a person as you could ever hope to meet. His presence was a reminder of the blessings one can see in their daily life, and his absence only drives that home even harder.
Above is a video shared from an autograph session Fernández conducted at an unknown time. From what we can see, it was just another day at the ballpark, and the autograph José signed was one of thousands over the course of his career — a routine that many players forsake at times, or go through in rote fashion at others. José wasn’t the only player who delights in giving out moments that are so special to those receiving them, but he made this one in particular even more significant. He got a kid’s autograph back, and asked to keep it. That was the action of a star baseball player who couldn’t have been more than 23 years old at the time.
If that doesn’t make your heart hurt all over again, we don’t know what will. José wasn’t just generous with his time, he truly, deep in his soul, felt a love for the game of baseball and for the kids around the game in which he saw himself. He didn’t have to put any effort into moments like that; they were just who he is. No matter how much you enjoyed him when he was around, now that he’s gone we’re betting you’re cursing yourself for not appreciating him more. We know we are.