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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Sept. 25 a day of mourning for the sports community as Arnold Palmer, Jose Fernandez die

Joe Caveretta/Sun Sentinel/TNS
A memorial for Jose Fernandez takes shape at Marlins Park in Miami after the game against the Atlanta Braves was cancelled when Fernandez died in a boating accident, Sunday, Sept. 25, 2016, in Maimi Beach.

Though tragedy happens seemingly strikes everyday, Sept. 25 was a day that seemed gloomier than most.

It started early with the unfortunate death of Miami Marlins’ pitcher Jose Fernandez. Fernandez, 24, was found dead in a boating accident in the early hours of the morning after Coast Guard patrols found his craft overturned on a jetty near Miami Beach.

Fernandez was as bright a young star as there was in baseball. He was a two-time all-star and one of the more dominant presences on the mound in the major leagues. Couple that with his tales of how he was able to escape Cuba, and your heart bleeds a bit more. Fernandez tried defecting from Cuba on multiple occasions, being jailed three times.

A video depicting his emotions when surprised by his grandmother gives you the perfect insight to the struggle of a major league baseball player playing so far from home without the ability to visit.

An emotional Marlins team honored the late Fernandez on Monday night by wearing No. 16 “Fernandez” jerseys, with his number painted on the mound and jersey hanging in the dugout.

The Marlins beat the Mets 7-3.

Losing a legend

Arnold Palmer was the quintessential definition of class. He was the face of golf after Sam Snead and continued to be the face while sharing the spotlight with Jack Nicklaus. “The King,” as named by his competitors, is considered one of the greatest golfers of all-time.

Palmer was the 1960 and 1962 PGA Player of the Year, the 1960’s Associated Press Athlete of the Decade, a seven-time major champion including the Masters Tournament four times, and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by the White House in 2004.

That list presents just a minor fraction of what Palmer accomplished in life.

He was the very definition of an athlete who contributed to society by giving back. Palmer, a philanthropist if there ever was one, established multiple charities, but his biggest contribution was the Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children and Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women & Babies.

He also hosted the annual Arnold Palmer Invitational, which brings in money to help fund these ventures.

Palmer established “Arnie’s Army,” a initiative to get the very best out of people by supporting children, charity and events for people in need.

“When people ask what’s driven me all these years, I always give the same answer. It’s you,” said Palmer on the Arnie’s Army site.

The beginning and end of both life and a career in sports is always unsettling. The tragedy of Fernandez and the end to Palmer’s life are sad in very different ways.

Fernandez, the brightest of stars that vanquished to soon on the early hours of the day, and Palmer, a humanitarian who used his celebrity for the greater good until the end of the twilight of his life.

Follow Saul Bookman on Twitter.

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