When Miami Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez tragically died last month after a boating accident at only 24 years old, not only Miami, but the entire baseball community mourned the loss of one of the most promising athletes in the MLB. To see someone that talented and joyous taken away so young was heart-wrenching. The death of Fernandez, naturally, elicited many emotional responses — some well outside Miami. In the Magic City, his passing galvanized thousands of fans to lay flowers at a memorial for Fernandez. But it also inspired a man here in Denver to write a very moving tribute song dedicated to Fernandez, titled "You're Okay, It's Alright."
Across the country, a few hours before the fatal boat crash that killed Fernandez, David Burchfield was driving his scooter around Denver on a Saturday night when he was sideswiped and pushed right into the front hood of a truck. "I took an ambulance ride to the ER and ended up with only a broken nose and concussion," he tells us over the phone. "Looking back at the scene of the accident, you could tell if the impact had been a few inches different, I would have been dead."
Burchfield was quickly released from the hospital, and a few nights later the longtime baseball fan was in his living room watching the Marlins play the Mets. "I was sitting there recovering and watching the team's moving tribute to Jose. It was amazing. There was so much emotion and connection. It seemed so poignant that they were playing this game out of love for Jose in his absence. You couldn't help but feel empathy for the team and the whole Miami community."
After seeing Dee Gordon hit one of the first home runs of his career and then break down in emotion as he rounded the bases, a melody started to swirl in Burchfield's head. "I couldn't sleep at night thinking how close to death I was. So I figured I might as well write myself a lullaby." So he started to write "You're Okay, It's Alright." The first verse dealt with Burchfield's accident. The second verse delves into Fernandez, as Burchfield sings, "Not coming out/To play ball with his friends." It all coalesces in the third verse with Burchfield's gratitude and newfound appreciation for life: "Cars still rush/Crickets still sing/Tonight's just like it would've been/If I wasn't here/But I still am/Just thank God/That I'm okay."
Fernandez inspires a song across the country.
Photo by Michele Eve Sandberg
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Once he finished the song, Burchfield wanted to quickly record it. He asked his friend Jess Parsons to assist with the vocals and play accordion. They were also accompanied by Devon Teran on guitar. "I grew up with Devon in Kansas City, and he just randomly happened to be in town. He's also coincidentally Cuban."
Burchfield has been struggling to get the video of his song over to the Marlins organization as a thank you for helping to inspire him during a tough time. "I wanted to share it with the Marlins and Miami. I messaged all their fan pages and the press, but I haven't gotten any responses yet. I'd really like to get it to Dee Gordon if I could."
A few weeks after his accident, Burchfield is back to work at his job as an elementary-school science teacher. "The kids were all cool and sympathetic," he says. Burchfield can't help but feel fortunate that he got away from his accident with only a scratch on his nose, a bruised hip and a song.