Sept. 25, 2016, will be remembered as a day of great loss. On that morning, the world lost three young men in a tragic accident that never should have happened. It was the greatest loss of all, but that day also changed a city and team forever.
On that day, Eduardo Rivera, Emilio Jesus Macias and Jose Fernandez were killed. At the time, Fernandez was 24 years old and had established himself as one of the best pitchers in baseball.
He was the face of Miami, both the Marlins and the city, as a young Cuban athlete who was living out his dreams and providing hope to everyone. The Marlins were set up nicely with Christian Yelich, Giancarlo Stanton, Dee Gordon, Marcell Ozuna and J.T. Realmuto.
The pieces of a dynamic, young core were all there to make the Marlins a team everyone in the city could rally around. While they would fall short of the postseason, hopes were high for the team’s future. Then it all changed on that Sunday morning when the world learned what happened.
Former Marlins outfielder Christian Yelich agrees.
“It changed everything,” Yelich said, via Barstool Sports. “I’d still be there. Stanton would still be there. We’d all still be there this year if that didn’t happen. We would have been gearing up making a playoff push.”
It represented a dramatic loss for the Marlins, they lost their ace. While the Marlins tried to battle through it the following season, the loss of the 24-year-old proved to be far too much for everyone in Miami. In the days following the Sept. 25, everyone knew things would never be the same.
“When something like that happens in a small-market organization, you can’t replace it, and it set everything back years,” Yelich said, via Barstool Sports. “Once that happened, we all realized a few days after that this is going to change everything for everybody, and everybody’s path is going to be different.”
Miami had its heart ripped out on that day and the impact from it became obvious within the past two years. The team struggled on the field, new ownership came in and quickly hit the reset button. As a result, Gordon, Ozuna, Stanton and Yelich were all traded within months of each other.
It’s a date in history that forever changed a city, a franchise and the lives of so many around it. But most importantly, it’s a day when three men lost their lives in a careless accident that never should have happened.