Interview with Miami Marlins Glenn Geffner: Part II
MM: Lastly, do feel I’d also be remiss if I were not to ask you about Jose Fernandez. However, all that really seems appropriate and worthwhile to me to ask would be just to ask you what your favorite memory of Jose is, and what you feel is the most important part of his legacy?
GG: The fact that I’ve mentioned Jose’s name already in answering a couple of your questions that had nothing to do with him shows how much a part he remains of this team and how much his presence is still felt by those of us who were lucky enough to spend some time around him.
My favorite Jose memory, and I tweeted this story out the day he passed, comes from July 2, 2015. That was the day Jose finally returned from his Tommy John surgery. He beat the Giants and even hit a home run off Matt Cain.
But the part of that day I’ll never forget came hours later and 35,000 feet in the air. After the game we flew to Chicago. You think about how hard he had worked to come back over the previous year and how exhilarating it had to be for him to be back on a big league mound, to get a win and even go deep (which, to him, was far more important than what he did on the mound!).
I can only imagine how emotional a day it was for him and for those who stood with him every step of the way during his very long and very lonely rehab. If ever there were a flight where maybe his emotions might have overwhelmed him and he decided to sleep for a couple of hours, that might have been it.
But instead, he told the flight attendants they were getting the flight off. Next thing you knew, there was Jose taking orders and then passing out people’s dinners. When he brought me my food, I told him I had to have a picture of him passing me the tray. It wasn’t a picture I would have ever planned to share. But the day he passed away, I tweeted it out and told the story because I thought it showed a side of Jose not many got to see. The impish grin on his face said so much about who he was. I’ll never forget that moment.
As for Jose’s legacy, the impact he made on so many people in so many different ways in such a short life will never be forgotten. He reminded us every day that baseball’s a game, and it’s supposed to be fun. I think I apply that lesson in my own life more than I did previously to honor Jose’s memory. I hope others do too.
And one of the really sad parts of his legacy is I think he may go down in baseball history as the ultimate “what if.” In Boston they talk about Tony Conigliaro, the young home-grown slugger who had his career short-circuited by a beaning when he was 22 and had already hit more than 100 homers.
I think about Jose the same way folks up there still—50 years later—think about Tony C. What if he’d pitched 15 or 20 years? What records could he have set? How many Cy Youngs might he have won? What would he have done on the October stage? And how many more lives would he have touched? How many more could he have inspired and lifted up. His death was so sad on so many different levels, but the whole “what if” will always be a big part of how we remember Jose.
MM: Great stuff, and thanks so much again for taking the time. Any parting thoughts, requests for our readers?
GG: Thanks for asking me to do this, Sean. I enjoyed it. It’s always great to be reminded that there’s a dedicated community of passionate Miami Marlins fans out there. I see you guys on Twitter and Facebook and love talking with fans at the ballpark. You guys have been through a lot of ups and downs over 25 years. Hopefully there are some great days ahead for all of us soon!
Hope everyone enjoyed this as much as I did. If you did, even more importantly than starting every day by checking out the latest Marlin Maniac content, pass along some thanks to Glenn on Twitter via his handle @GlennGeffner. And of course, be sure to tune in to 940 WINZ to follow the Miami Marlins as they were meant to heard.