Marlins’ Fernandez remembered as larger than life at funeral

Baseball fans stand for a minute of silence for Miami Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez, who was killed early Sunday, Sept. 25, 2016 in a boating accident in Miami, before a baseball game between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Chicago Cubs Sunday, Sept. 25, 2016, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

MIAMI (AP) — Miami Marlins ace Jose Fernandez was remembered Thursday as a larger than life figure during a homily at his funeral.

“Jose was too good for this league,” the Rev. Jose Alvarez said. “He’s a going to a higher league.”

Fernandez, a 24-year-old, two-time All-Star, died early Sunday along with two friends in a boating accident off Miami Beach.

His funeral service lasted more than two hours. Those in attendance included Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred, current and former Marlins players and two hall-of-famers, Marlins executives Tony Perez and Andre Dawson.

The private service drew about 300 mourners, who nearly filled the large sanctuary at St. Brendan Catholic Church in Miami.

Pallbearers wore black Fernandez jerseys as they carried his casket.

While Thursday’s funeral was private, fans got to say their goodbyes a day earlier.

Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria, manager Don Mattingly, hitting coach Barry Bonds and the players including Marcel Ozuna and Giancarlo Stanton wore white T-shirts emblazoned with Fernandez’s image and the letters “RIP” as they slowly walked the hearse away from Marlins Park in Miami’s Little Havana neighborhood on Wednesday. Many in the crowd of about 1,000 chanted “Jose! Jose!” and some waved Cuban flags in honor of the popular Cuban-American player.

Hundreds of fans streamed into St. Brendan 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 Fernandez’s popularity as a player but also because he was a hero to many in the Cuban-American community.

Fernandez was killed when the boat he owned slammed at high speed into a rock jetty early Sunday just off South Beach, investigators say. The cause of the crash is being investigated by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. In addition to Fernandez, Emilio Jesus Macias, 27, and Eduardo Rivero, 25, also died in the crash.

Fernandez 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 set a single-season Marlins strikeout record this year with 253.

On Thursday, officials in Tampa said that a jersey worn by Fernandez in high school was missing following a candlelight vigil at his former high school. Officials at Alonso High School filed a police report and authorities are asking whoever took the jersey to return it.

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