MIAMI – A day after fans said goodbye, family members and friends of Miami Marlins pitcher José Fernández were set to attend a private funeral Mass on Thursday.
Fernández and two friends were killed in a boat crash off South Beach early Sunday morning.
Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria, manager Don Mattingly, hitting coach Barry Bonds and the players including Marcell Ozuna and Giancarlo Stanton wore white T-shirts emblazoned with Fernández’s image and the letters “RIP” as they slowly walked the hearse away from Marlins Park in Miami’s Little Havana neighborhood Wednesday. Many in the crowd of about 1,000 chanted “José! José!” and some waved Cuban flags in honor of the popular Cuban-American player.
Hundreds of fans streamed into St. Brendan’s Catholic Church later Wednesday for a public viewing, which was scheduled to last into the night. Many said they felt compelled to come not only because of Fernández’s popularity as a player but also because he was a hero to many in the Cuban-American community.
Inside the church, mourners filed past a closed casket framed by flower arrangements in the shapes of the U.S. and Cuban flags, with a large family photo of Fernández off to one side. Many touched the casket lightly and crossed themselves.
The cause of the crash is being investigated by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. In addition to Fernández, Emilio Jesus Macias, 27, and Eduardo Rivero, 25, also died in the crash.
Fernández was an emerging baseball star known for his exuberant personality and style of play. He was National League Rookie of the Year in 2013 and was a two-time All-Star. This year he set a single-season Marlins strikeout record with 253.