Losing a child is a parent’s worst nightmare. No matter what the circumstances are, it is tragic. Last September, Maritza Fernandez lost her only son, Miami Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez. This Sunday on E:60 (9 a.m. ET, ESPN), Maritza speaks to reporter Pedro Gomez about her son’s death for the first time.
“She was so gracious in welcoming us into her home. It’s not just me as you know,” said Gomez. “It’s me, a producer and a camera crew. I was really surprised how willing she was to talk about anything we asked and also how willing she was to show us everything in her home related to her son. Those are things I will always remember.”
Gomez says there are a few factors that likely made Fernandez comfortable opening up to him, including his ability to speak with her in Spanish.
“We’re both Cuban, and my friend who I grew up with is very good friends with Ralph Fernandez, the family’s lawyer [no relation to the family]. Ralph and I set up a meeting seven or eight months ago in Tampa where he works,” said Gomez. “I had also met Maritza briefly on occasions because they [she and her son] were very close. A few years ago, when Jose won the Rookie of the Year Award, she was there, and I had talked to her then. The last time I saw her was at Jose’s public viewing when I was covering the news in Miami for the entire week.”
A few months ago, news came out that Jose Fernandez was responsible for crashing the boat after driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol. Gomez had to find a way to be sensitive while also asking about the incident.
“As a reporter, you have to hit every imaginable angle and even though that one came unexpectedly there was no way to ignore it,” said Gomez. “Ralph knew that and so did Maritza.”
Despite the circumstances of Fernandez’s death, Gomez hopes people will be sympathetic because at the end of the day this is about a mother who lost her son.
“I’m a parent as well, and you see the pain in her eyes, her voice and her gestures. She has admitted that she will never be able to recover from this and as a journalist that puts a lot more responsibility on you to make sure you treat this in a respectful way,” Gomez said. “Your instincts and human compassion have to take over.”