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The Simpsonian

Editorial: Rest easy, 16

by Hunter Hillygus, Sports Editor

Sometimes I forget why I play baseball.

I’m a Division III athlete. I don’t get a scholarship to play, and practices force many long nights making sure I make good on my academic and professional obligations. Sometimes baseball is the furthest thing from my mind. There are a lot better uses of my time, to be honest with you.

José Fernández played baseball with a childlike enthusiasm. ”

I could have a full-time job, focus on my studies, further my development as a young professional, those kinds of things. At times, I questioned whether or not I still loved the game.

When I found out that Miami Marlins pitcher José Fernández passed away Sunday morning in a boating accident, the reason I play became apparent.

José Fernández played baseball with a childlike enthusiasm. Regardless if it was his day to toe the rubber or not, he showed up to the ballpark as if it was the only place he wanted to be.

The Marlins paid him millions of dollars to pitch for them, but if you dropped him off on the mound here at Simpson College and told him that’s where he was going to pitch that day, he would have approached both situations the same way. Neither the money nor the setting was his motivation. Simply playing was.

I’m in college, and I still get to play baseball. I am incredibly lucky to be doing so. Division III athletes don’t play because it’s some giant opportunity to capture money or fame; we play because we love it. We don’t play in stadiums full of thousands of people; we might get 100 fans in the stands if we’re lucky.

As I sat in my bed Sunday morning watching José’s pitching highlights and tributes, I saw someone who was doing the one thing he loved more than anything else.

Sometimes practices throw wrenches into our personal lives, and we might have to cancel plans or stay up a little late to finish an assignment for a class. That’s OK though because, at the end of the day, those inconveniences are minuscule. We’re playing a sport we love so much that those inconveniences are worth it.

He was a man whose energy and passion for baseball was matched by a select few.”

I had forgotten all of that until José Fernández’s passing. I had lost sight of why I am still toiling away playing a Division III sport. I still play because the love of the game trumps everything else.

As I sat in my bed Sunday morning watching José’s pitching highlights and tributes, I saw someone who was doing the one thing he loved more than anything else. He was a man whose energy and passion for baseball was matched by a select few. He loved the game and in doing that reminded me that I still loved the game too.

So, thank you, José Fernández, for reminding me why I still play baseball. In your passing, I rediscovered a love for baseball that I had lost in the last couple of years. And, from the bottom of my heart, thank you for that.

Rest easy, 16.

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