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!

 

Most Popular

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome

Listen Live

Rockets get another much-needed win. Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images.

The Houston Rockets went on a redemption tour by beating the Detroit Pistons and Dallas Mavericks. But the most pivotal win was against the Mavericks as the Rockets finally showed their true potential. John Wall finally made his return from his injury hiatus and played with a lot of energy. DeMarcus Cousins and Eric Gordon combined for 61 points. It was great to see Stephan Silas crack a smile as he was able to beat his former team.

The Rockets clearly missed Wall during his eight-game absense. This season, the Rockets are a .500 team with Wall on the court. Wall is the Rockets' floor general that leads, constructs, and also pushes his teammates to become better.

Wall only played 21 minutes in the 133-108 win over the Mavericks but still had eight assists. Even though Wall only had 7 points, his presence was still felt by finding his teammates for open looks beyond the perimeter. Wall made sure Cousins and Gordon got a plethora of touches. He called multiple actions, so they got open looks from three, which was mainly Gordon. Gordon and Cousins' struggles have been similar but with Wall on the court, they were successful against the Mavericks. According to NBA Stats, Wall posted a 111 offensive rating with the starters versus the Mavericks, which included Gordon and Cousins.

"He's the engine to this team. He gets everybody going. He makes the game easy," Cousins told a reporter after the game. "The pressure that he constantly puts on the defense is a tough thing to deal with."

Gordon has struggled all season long with three-point shooting and relied on his slashing abilities. Saturday night, Gordon made six three pointers against the Mavericks, which was 66 percent from beyond the perimeter. Gordon increased his three-point percentage from 31 percent to 34.5 percent after Saturday night's game. Gordon's 33 points came from being able to attack the entire Mavericks' defense. Willy Cauley-Stein didn't stand a chance against Gordon as he was burned multiple times. Gordon's been a lifesaver for the Rockets in the last two games, and hopefully he maintains his play.

Cousins played fantastic against the Mavericks scoring 28 points and grabbing 17 rebounds. This is Cousins' first double-double with the Rockets this season. Cousins became the vintage player from the New Orleans Pelicans and Sacramento Kings. It was extremely fun watching Cousins push the ball up the court and aggressively snatch rebounds. Boogie shot 50 percent from behind the arc by making four three-pointers. He was dominant inside the paint as Cousins went 7/8 from the restricted area versus the Mavericks. This was the game Cousins needed after having a poor performance against the Pistons Friday night.

"It was really, really good. He did it all. He's a physical presence on both ends of the floor," as Silas said on Cousins' performance.

David Nwaba and Mason Jones were big factors off the Rockets' bench by having a combined total of 34 points together. Nwaba has been great in transition for the Rockets the entire season. Keep in mind that Nwaba is returning from an Achilles injury he suffered with his former team, the Brooklyn Nets. Nwaba has became a great defender, slasher, and is averaging a career-high nine points per game with the Rockets. He finished with 18 points on Saturday night versus the Mavericks.

Mason Jones has become a fan favorite of the Rockets because of his confidence. Silas is loving the usage of Jones off the bench but wants to find more minutes for him. Jones had a breakout performance versus the San Antonio Spurs with 24 points off 66 percent shooting from the field. He continues to get better with his reads from the point guard position. Jones' knowledge of running the offense has helped his efficiency on the court. He is never afraid to take clutch shots in pivotal moments of the game.

"To have a young kid who can come in and not be afraid of the moment, that's big. That's a tough position to be in as an undrafted rookie. I trust him. It's a good problem to have," Silas mentioned after the game. "He's showing me he's ready. He's a confident kid, and he should be. That's why he's good. He's not afraid of the moment, at all. He can get us organized, run plays, and score the basketball."

Hopefully, the Rockets can sustain their level of play when Victor Oladipo returns against the Washington Wizards, Tuesday. It will be interesting to watch Oladipo and Wall play in the same backcourt.

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome