The Miami Marlins revealed last week that it will pay homage to the late Jose Fernandez with a life-size statue at Marlins Park. The announcement upset some people in the South Florida community and advocates are calling for the team to withdraw its plan.
The father of a young man who died in a DUI crash is so bothered by the planned 9-foot statue of Fernandez that he penned a letter to Marlins president David Samson. It reads in part: "This is why the decisions by your organization to install a larger than life statue of Jose Fernandez are very troubling to many of us."
Fernandez was the operator of a speeding boat that crashed into a Miami Beach jetty in September, killing the baseball star and two other men, according to a report by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Toxicology reports show Fernandez had cocaine in his system and a blood-alcohol level well over the legal limit.
Victim advocate Sally Matson with Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) said a statue would send the wrong message.
"I just think we have to be very careful about hinting and memorializing a person who would've been charged with two counts of manslaughter had he survived. We can't condone the drinking and drugged driving,” said Matson.
Samson says despite the protests, the team will move forward with its plans to build the Fernandez sculpture.
"People make mistakes, mistakes have consequences but it doesn't change what Jose meant to the Marlins, what he meant to Miami, what he meant to the Comm. The fact is he will always be a Marlin that doesn't change. When you love somebody you love them when things are good and when things are bad," Samson said.
The Marlins currently have a large poster with personal messages dedicated to Fernandez outside the ballpark.
Spokespersons for the Miami Marlins did not respond to our request for comment on the calls against the statue.