TAMPA (FOX 13) - On the very field where he became a pitching sensation, stories of Jose Fernandez hit harder than one of his 96-miles-an-hour fastballs.
Fernandez settled in Tampa at age 15, after fleeing Cuba with his mother. He would go on to lead Alonso High to a pair of state championships.
“He was so charismatic he was enthusiastic and passionate about everything he did,” said former teammate Nathan Hahn. “It is mind-blowing we know he was going to be big but not that big,” Hahn added.
Fernandez was first round draft pick, NL Rookie of the Year and a two time All-Star. Fernandez died Sunday in a boating accident in Miami.
Thousands said goodbye in South Florida Wednesday as his funeral procession left the Marlins stadium for the last time.
Back in Tampa, memories of number 16 still loom large.
“I think he's one of the best role models his story alone is like wow if he can do it anyone can and he had heart,” said parent Monica Zavala.