The only time I spoke with José Fernández I told him I wanted to write a long work for when he finished his career; something that would show all the moments of his life. He told me there was no problem with that, he would help me and we would sit down to do it.
Now that he’s gone, there’s only a locker to clean up, an empty field that is viewed with skepticism and a box stop full of caps, tears and disconcerted.
There wasn’t – perhaps it will never be repeated – a 24-year-old pitcher with a 2.58 ERA in his first 70 games. Not a single one among all those who have existed.
The Pythagorean philosophy in Greece saw perfection in the number 10. It was the union of the sum of the one (the unity), the two (the duality), the three (the trinity, with the heavenly, the earthly and the hellish) and the four (quaternary: land, air, fire and water). When I saw Fernández I thought they had made a mistake. I thought of the 16.
It’s still not the time or place to talk about his numbers. Only those who know the game in its integrity know that he pitched like a God while he could. Someday it will be possible to recall everything he left behind in such a short time, beyond his smile.
The world of baseball and its library had never registered a tragedy of such magnitude. Roberto Clemente (1972) also died in an accident. But the Great One, although it was a painful death since he was 38 years old at the time, had won a MVP award and two rings. Thurman Munson (1979), the immortal catcher of the Yankees, also died in an accident. He was 32 and had already won a MVP award, two rings and a rookie of the year.
However, the dauphin of all the Cubans was 24 years old. When repeating his age in one’s mind one gets a knot in the throat.
Rookie of the Year in 2013 when he was only 20. Now think about Sandy Koufax, Randy Johnson, Pedro Martínez, Roger Clemens, Lefty Grove, Nolan Ryan, Greg Maddux, Don Larsen, Clayton Kershaw, Curt Schilling, Bob Gibson or Juan Marichal. None of them could be Rookie of the Year or pitch a 2.58 ERA in their first 70 games at less than 24 years of age.
That is why Fernández was not on the road to being a very major pitcher or an ace which the franchises dream of having. No. He was going directly toward the field of being the best and most dominating pitcher, perhaps in history. But he didn’t have enough time.
Now the world continues its unchangeable speed. Nothing stops. The clocks speed up their turns and television, the adverts, radios, the thruways, the offices and the ringing of the phones continue. A human being is a tiny particle, insignificant for how big the world is.
Now, with Fernández’s death, I felt the opposite. On the box he was the entire universe, and we were tiny particles, witnesses to that greatness, to the heart of a player who before his arrival would get lost on a route of coldness. It was the only truth during the times when the truth is hidden. Laughter and soul in the age of the checks for millions of dollars.
It no longer matters what is done, Fernández won’t come back. They all want him to return to reestablish order, but that won’t happen. He will only be in the memory of those who love the game, of all his team mates, in the image of Stanton, Gordon, Prado, Céspedes, of all those who thought about him.
In a part of the baseball that Fernández took with him and that is hopelessly lost. A Halley comet that only he knew how to pitch in every game. It´s gone, babe, gone. The line and the point, the surface and the content.
It doesn’t matter where. The sales, the interviews, the news don’t matter. Someone who saved and surpassed us all has gone. The nostalgia of what he could have been will start going away while the certainty of what will no longer be arrives.