Journalism Showcase

ESPN’s “Journalism Showcase” – July 7, 2017

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.

Pedro Gomez interviews Maritza Fernandez. (Brian Rivera/ESPN)

“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.”

Eduardo Perez reflects on Jose Fernandez as Miami prepares to host 2017 MLB All-Star Game

Former Major League Baseball player and current ESPN MLB analyst Eduardo Perez lives in Miami. As he prepares to cover the 2017 All-Star Game from Marlins Park in his home city, he reflects on the life of former Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez.

“Jose was everything the Marlins should aspire to become for the city. The passion for the game, the will and work ethic to be the best and the love of family, life and the city,” Perez said.

Perez, who was a hitting coach for the Marlins in 2011, played a significant role in ESPN’s coverage of the tragic death of Fernandez last September. This week, Perez will be part of ESPN’s 2017 MLB All-Star coverage, and he will provide analysis during ESPN Deportes’ exclusive Spanish-language television coverage of the Home Run Derby on Monday, July 10.

A profile on Fernandez will air on Sunday’s E:60 and feature Pedro Gomez’ exclusive interview with his mother, Maritza Fernandez, at 9 a.m. ET on ESPN.

Journalism on Display

  • Poland’s Piotr Malachowski won a silver medal in discus at last year’s Olympic Games in Rio. In an incredibly selfless gesture, he auctioned off the medal to help pay for eye cancer treatment for a three-year-old boy. The story will be Sunday’s SC Featured. “From Silver to Gold” will debut in the 10 a.m. ET edition of SportsCenter on Sunday, July 9, and will re-air in other editions of the program throughout the day.
  • Elizabeth Merrill shares the inspiring story of Marine Cpl. Dakota Boyer, a U.S. Marine whose legs were crushed by an engine in 2015. Today, Boyer stands and this week he is competing in the 2017 Warrior Games. Tonight, ESPN’s Hannah Storm will be joined by Jon Stewart to host a special SportsCenter at 7 p.m. ET live from the 2017 Warrior Games in Chicago.
  • Peter Keating writes for ESPN The Magazine in a collaboration with espnW and Outside the Lines about female concussions. Keating researches the topic and finds that female athletes are more prone to concussions than males and suffer worse symptoms, yet the issue is rarely discussed. With a focus on the NCAA and female college sports, Keating writes an in-depth report about why it seems no one cares about female concussions.
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