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José Fernandez
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Baseball Player
    (July 31, 1992-September 25, 2016)
    Born in Santa Clara, Cuba
    Defected from Cuba at age 15 (2008)
    Became a US citizen (2015)
    Selected in the first round of the MLB Draft by the Miami Marlins (2011)
    Pitcher for the Miami Marlins (2013-16)
    28 wins, 17 losses
    2.58 career ERA
    Two-time All-Star (2013,2016)
    National League Rookie of the Year (2013)
    Died in a boating accident at age 24
    #16 retired by the Marlins
    In high school, he ran into a Tampa Bay Rays executive who was scouting another player and told the exec they should sign him because ‘I can put asses in seats.’
    Told during the 2012 All-Star Futures Game that a couple of other pitchers’ fastballs had broken 100 miles per hour while his had topped out at 99 mph, he claimed he had ‘a little sore throat, so I took it easy.’
    His second season came to an early end when he tore a ligament in his elbow and had to undergo Tommy John surgery.
    He was imprisoned three times in his teens after unsuccessful attempts to defect.
    During his escape from Cuba, his mother fell overboard when their boat hit rough water and he dived in to rescue her.
    The day before he was named Rookie of the Year, the Marlins surprised him by reuniting him with his grandmother Olga, who he had not seen since defecting.
    During his rookie season, Tampa Bay Rays Manager Joe Maddon tweeted, ‘José Fernández might be the best young pitcher I've ever seen, at that age.’
    He donated time and money (including his winnings for Rookie of the Year) to Live Like Bella, a foundation fighting childhood cancer.

Credit: C. Fishel

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