Miami Marlins manager Don Mattingly couldn’t hold back his tears as he paid tribute to pitcher José Fernández during a press conference on Sunday, September 25.

Mattingly, 55, looked distraught as he struggled to find the right words to honor Fernández, 24, who died in a boating accident earlier in the day.

“Just joy with him when he played,” the veteran baseball player said. “And when he pitched, I think that’s what the guys said too — as mad as he would make you with the stuff he would make you do, you would just see that little kid. When you watch kids in Little League or something like that, that’s the joy that José played with. That’s what I think about.”

As previously reported, the Coast Guard found Fernández and two pals in an overturned boat in Miami Beach at about 3:30 a.m. According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, it appeared that the 32-foot vessel had a “severe impact” with a jetty, causing it to flip over.

“The Miami Marlins organization is devastated by the tragic loss of José Fernández,” the team said in a statement on its website Sunday morning. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this very difficult time.”

The Santa Clara, Cuba, native was a first-round draft pick with the Marlins in 2011, where he quickly gained superstar status, winning the National League’s Rookie of the Year award in 2013 and becoming a two-time All-Star during his short-lived career.

Earlier in the week, Fernández appeared to announce his girlfriend’s pregnancy via Instagram with a post of an unidentified woman cradling her baby bump.

“I’m so glad you came into my life,” he captioned the stunning photo. “I’m ready for where this journey is gonna take us together. #familyfirst.”

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