Marlins plan to honor Jose Fernandez with bronze statue

MIAMI, FL - APRIL 08:  Jose Fernandez #16 of the Miami Marlins looks on from the dugout during the game against the Atlanta Braves at Marlins Park on April 8, 2015 in Miami, Florida.  (Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images)

MIAMI (AP) — The mixed legacy of Jose Fernandez will include a bronze statue on the plaza at Marlins Park.

The Marlins are planning a memorial to their late ace that will stand at least nine feet high, team president David Samson said Thursday.

Fernandez and two others died in a boat crash last September. The Marlins decided to go ahead with the statue even after a state investigation determined Fernandez was the probable operator of the boat, and had he survived the crash he could have been charged with multiple crimes, including boating under the influence manslaughter.

“It doesn’t change the legacy of Jose in our view,” Samson said. “It is very disappointing. It’s a tragedy. But it doesn’t change our love for him or the fact we want him to be memorialized here at Marlins Park, because he is forever a Marlin.”

The statue will be sculpted by William Behrends, who was responsible for Willie McCovey and Willie Mays statues in San Francisco, and won’t be finished for at least six months, Samson said.

Miami owner Jeffrey Loria chose the image for the statue, which wasn’t disclosed, and hired Behrends.

“It’s something Jeffrey wanted to do personally for Jose and his family and his fans — to have something that would permanently represent what Jose was,” Samson said.