By Joe Giordano || Sports Editor
This past week, the sports world lost two true heroes. On Sunday, September 25, the world was in utter shock at the loss of 24-year-old Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez. Fernandez was tragically killed in a boating accident off Miami Beach early Sunday morning. Later the same day, Palmer passed away due to complications from heart problems. While Fernandez and Palmer differed greatly in age, ethnicity, personality, and even sport, both had one thing in common: the impact they made on people’s lives.
Arnold Palmer was truly a legend of the sport of golf through and through. Whenever someone mentions the game of golf and the greatest golfers ever, Palmer is at the top of everyone’s list. It wasn’t just that Palmer won tournaments, it was the way he did it. According to Golf Week Magazine, “As a measure of his popularity, Palmer, like Elvis Presley before him, was known simply as ‘The King.’ But in a life bursting from the seams with success, Palmer never lost his common touch. He was a man of the people, willing to sign every autograph, shake every hand, and tried to look every person in his gallery in the eye.” He was a man of great integrity and honor and truly transformed the game of golf into an everyman’s sport. He was a hero to look up to and played the game with incredible class. Palmer’s impact will not be soon forgotten.
In stark contrast to Palmer, the 24-year-old Jose Fernandez exuded passion and energy every single time he stepped on the mound. Fernandez was born in Cuba, where he attempted to defect on three previous occasions (one of which got him thrown in jail), he was finally able to successfully defect and chase his dream of being a major leaguer.
While Fernandez was obviously skilled, winning the 2013 National League Rookie of the Year, he will be remembered for the way he played the game. Although he occasionally crossed a line or two, most people came in waves to witness the young Cuban pitch. When speaking of Fernandez, ESPN writer Dan Le Batard: “This is a guy in Miami who was a symbol for Cuban-Americans because he came over to this country as a young man. He fled Cuba and started a life for himself that was really special.” Fernandez was much more than a baseball player, he was a sense of hope for Cuban-Americans. Even with the poor attendance numbers the Marlins usually bring in, the stadium was always packed whenever Fernandez took the mound. His child-like passion made him easy to love and left a lasting impact on so many around him. He truly brought life to a game that has been recently criticized as too boring and will not, like Palmer, be forgotten.
Palmer and Fernandez represented two different things entirely. One represented respect and class while the other brought life to a game that was in much need of a player of passion. While they differed from one another in some regards, they both had impacts on the lives of not only the sports world, but also people of all walks of life. Let us honor the lives of two heroes and their families by keeping their memories alive.
Junior Joe Giordano is the Sports Editor. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.