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All-Star Game Will Have Audience of One on Rooftop in Cuba

Posted By Steve Mencher On July 16, 2013 @ 4:51 pm In Bulletin Today | Comments Disabled

Major League Baseball’s young pitching phenom José Fernández, the sole Miami Marlin on tonight’s All-Star Game roster, is confident he’ll get the ball. “I talked to the pitching coach and most likely I’m pitching,” the rookie told the Miami Herald. “I don’t know what inning. But I’m good to go.”

[Editor’s note: That inning was the sixth, and Fernández mowed down the heart of the American League lineup 1-2-3]

Jose FernandezThat’s going to make one fan very happy.

Olga Fernández, 68, is José’s grandma. She follows his games by transistor radio from a rooftop in Santa Clara, Cuba. “I get so emotional,” she told the Miami Herald’s Dan Le Batard. “He takes me with him. It is like I can see the United States through his eyes.”

Olga hasn’t seen José in person since 2008, when, on his fourth attempt, he fled Cuba by boat with his sister and mother. During the journey, a wave knocked his mother into the water, and Fernández jumped in to rescue her.

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The right-hander pitched brilliantly in high school and was drafted in the first round by the Marlins in 2011. With a 5-5 record, and 2.75 ERA, Fernández is considered one of the best young pitchers in baseball.

Perhaps it’s because of grandma’s advice:

“She says, ‘Here’s the game plan: We’re going to go at them hard and away, and low,’” he told Le Batard. “‘Stay down in the zone. Breaking balls in the dirt, but not too many because those are bad for the arm.’”

For her advice, and because he misses her terribly, José sends Olga lots of presents. But the distance seems overwhelming to them both, despite the radio signals that bring her news each time he takes the mound.

“Every day, I pray to be there,” she says.

Photo by Paul.Hadsall via Flickr

 

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