MIAMI (CBSMiami) — The news of Jose Fernandez’s passing hit one of his fans especially hard because less than 24 hours earlier, she got to meet her favorite baseball player.
Cristina Llanes, 20, was on cloud nine Saturday afternoon after a big surprise — meeting Fernandez at Marlins Park.
“We’re going to try to win today. You know the other team is really good,” said Fernandez as he spoke with Cristina.
Cristina, a huge Marlins fan, used to go watch the team play with her father. A debilitating disease, however, has really taken its toll and made it difficult for her to make it out to any games.
On Saturday, thanks to a Make-a-Wish program, Miami Fire Rescue crews transported Cristina for the surprise of a lifetime.
“It was a huge surprise. I didn’t expect that at all,” said Cristina. “It was a huge experience. It felt like a dream come true.”
Cristina says she’s been Jose’s biggest fan since his rookie year. Saturday, he presented her with a signed baseball bat and jersey and spent time chatting with her and her family.
“He just spoke to me like, it was great to meet me and talked about the experience, and how he became a Marlin,” said Cristina.
But after a day filled with so much joy, like so many fans, Cristina woke up to the devastating news of Jose’s boating accident.
“I’ve been sad. He’s in a different place now,” said Cristina. “I could feel what they’re feeling, especially his teammates, his family, his friends, especially his mom and his grandmother.”
Cristina says she plans to display her autographed bat and jersey in a shadow box.