You don't have to follow baseball to appreciate this story, and I hope my non-baseball fan readers will stick around and read this.
A young man defects from Cuba at the age of 15, successful on his fourth try. During that fourth try, his mother fell overboard, and the teenager saved her.
Baseball has been a part of his life since his early childhood. He goes to high school in Tampa, Florida, where I lived many years ago. He becomes a star baseball player with the Miami Marlins. At 24, he learns he will be a father for the first time. He is popular. He earns respect.
And then, he dies in a tragic boating accident Sunday, in the early morning when their boat rammed into a jetty. Two other men die with him. Speed was a factor. No life jackets were on the boat, but they may not have helped.
His team cancels their Sunday game, something which is Just Not Done in major league baseball.
Monday evening, they play against "my" home team, the New York Mets, so the game is televised. After the National Anthem is played, the members of the two teams cried and embraced. Every member of the Marlins is wearing a shirt with the late ballplayer's name and number. The players gather around the pitching mound and inscribe his name and number in the dirt.
The Mets baseball announcers are holding back tears. One wasn't entirely successful.
The Marlins come to bat, and the very first player hits a home run. Afterwards the player breaks down in tears. The Marlins go on to win, 7-3.
If Hollywood had made a movie from a fictional story, who know how many tickets it would have sold?
But it is no movie. It was real life for a young man by the name of Jose Fernandez.
His child will never know him. And millions of baseball fans, stunned, mourn the death of a man gone too soon. A small thing, this death, compared to the going-on's in the world, but it reminds us that the end for each of us can come at any time, without warning. We must make the most of the time we have on this earth doing what we love to do.
We must make a difference.
May his death be a lesson for all of us.
Would your demise be widely mourned?