A Cuban Inspiration

Westside senior Julian Garcia honors Jose Fernandez

Garcia, a Cuban-American, honors the late Fernandez with his glove, jersey number. Vype

When Julian Garcia lost his glove, the Westside senior pitcher knew he would have to get a new one prior to the 2018 season and knew exactly what he wanted.

But not just any glove would do.

Garcia is Cuban-American and chose one that would honor a player he admired in former Miami Marlins ace Jose Fernandez and his Cuban heritage. His father Alejandro was born in Cuba.

“I looked up his exact model. It was this one, the HG12, and I looked it up to see if it was available for customization on the website,” Garcia said. “It was and it just had all the perfect colors. I played with it for a while until I got the combination I liked.”

It is a glove that definitely sticks out.

From its bright blue color, the Cuban flag, the Miami Marlins’ logo and then add on the initials JF16 honoring Fernandez and his jersey, this glove is unique.

“It’s definitely the best looking glove I’ve ever had,” Garcia said. “That alone is just enough. The meaning it has, I know I’ll have it forever. It’ll be special to me.”

This story truly starts though on April 7, 2013.

Fernandez – a native of Santa Clara, Cuba – made his debut for the Miami Marlins that season, putting Major League Baseball on notice with his fiery stuff. He was eventually named the 2013

National League Rookie of the Year.

“I first found out about him his rookie year and just paid attention to some of his starts,” Garcia said. “I’m usually drawn to right handers who throw hard or who have good breaking balls.

“The fact that he was Cuban and pretty much embodied everything that I want to be when I get older, was really important to me.”

The rookie sensation turned into the face of the Marlins’ franchise along with players like Giancarlo Stanton.

In 2016, Fernandez was selected for his second All-Star Game appearance, piecing together another stellar year going 16-8 with a 2.86 ERA heading into September.

“The thing that caught my eye was his breaking ball,” Garcia said. “The breaking ball has always been my go-to pitch. Just seeing how dominant he was with it, is something I’d like to model myself after. Just the way he competed out there and the way he showed emotion. It was great seeing his passion for the game and the way he pitched every night.”

Then on September 25, 2016 tragedy struck – Fernandez and two other men were killed when their boat hit rocks and capsized. Fernandez was 24.

“I had to check my phone three or four times,” Garcia said when he woke up to the news that morning. “It didn’t even seem real to me.

It was tough for almost a week or two. It’s amazing how someone who I’ve never even met, never even been close to, can have such a big affect on me.

“Being Cuban-American, it just kind of felt like you lost a piece of yourself.”

Heading into his junior season, Garcia’s year was cut short when he suffered an injury in the Lufkin tournament and underwent Tommy John surgery last April.

As his recovery was going along into December, Garcia’s team was getting new uniforms and they were choosing numbers.

Garcia chose 16 – the same number that Fernandez wore his entire Major League career.

“Every time I go out on the mound for a start, I’ll go on one knee, put the number in the dirt and just point to the sky,” Garcia

said. “After the third out of every inning, I’ll tap my number and point to the sky.”

It is very apparent when talking to Garcia, knowing the players he follows and seeing the flag stitched on his glove, his heritage is an important part of his life.

“I take a lot of pride in it,” he said. “I’m very proud to be Cuban- American.”

This article appears in the March Issue of VYPE Magazine. Pick up your copy at any one of our locations today!

 

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