Jose Fernandez Tribute:Greensboro Grasshoppers’ Season begins on Thursday April 6

Jose Fernandez Tribute
Authored by Jordan Stowe

It was my favorite time of year. The grass was green, the pollen circled in the air, and the whizzing of fastballs were about to commence. It was the South Atlantic League’s opening day for baseball season here in Greensboro. The boys of summer were back.

I remember the first time I saw Jose Fernandez. He was larger than life; with a smile bigger than Texas. His love for the game was evident in everything he did. From the way he walked and talked to his fans, to the way he laughed in the dugout with his teammates, to the infectious smile that he carried with him everywhere he went in the stadium. He always portrayed himself with such class and professionalism.

Behind that smile and charisma was a lethal fastball with pinpoint accuracy. As a season ticket holder and Hoppers Fan blog contributor I had many opportunities to talk to him and watch him play the game he so desperately loved. My best memory of Jose was watching him pitch at the South Atlantic League All Star game in Charleston, South Carolina that summer.

That All Star game would also end up being his last weekend in the South Atlantic League. Adam Conley, current Miami Marlins pitcher, and Jose Fernandez would move up from Single A after that.

The next time I saw anything from him, was when he was on my television screen pitching his first ever pitch in the majors for the Miami Marlins. That first pitch was tossed and thrown into the dugout, bound for Cooperstown. This man had a promising life, career, and legacy. He was a baseball player that’s love for the game surpassed all.

It is because of his legacy, that I choose to remember the way he lived, not the manner in which he died. Number 16 will be retired April 7th, 2017 at the Hoppers stadium. As I was there for his first pitch, I’ll be there when they hang his jersey for that last somber tear filled moment. It will be in that moment that we remember the man that brought so much laughter, smiles, and enthusiasm into that stadium.

And, once again it’ll be A GREAT NIGHT TO BE A HOPPER!