Baseball

Fernando Rodriguez, Jr.

October 20, 1981 ~ October 31, 2021 (age 40)

Obituary

Fernando Rodriguez Jr. of Jersey City passed away peacefully in his home, surrounded by loved ones on October 31st, 2021 at the age of 40. He is survived by his loving wife and caregiver Karen, his three children Candida, Jalene, and Fernando III; his parents Marilyn, Jesus Sr., and Fernando Sr.; his brothers Manny and Jayson Rodriguez, as well as several nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles, cousins, and loving friends. 

Unfortunately, Fernando’s passing was due to a Brain Tumor. In March of 2017, he began to have seizures without cause being that he was relatively healthy at the time. Doctors discovered that he had a mass in the right side of his brain which was later confirmed to be cancerous after a biopsy was performed. He was diagnosed with Stage 2 Brain Cancer and in September of that year, he underwent Brain Surgery to remove as much of the tumor as possible. He then completed 32 sessions of radiation and 9 months of Chemotherapy. By 2018, he was in remission but still dealt with side effects such as memory loss, loss of balance, speech complications, and overall body weakness. In 2020, a new tumor was found which led Fernando to do 4 more months of Chemotherapy. This had little success, leading doctors to perform another Brain Surgery, where they also removed the part of his brain responsible for causing seizures. After this second surgery, Fernando was paralyzed on the left side of his body. Despite being bed bound for a total of 10 months, he was determined to get back on his feet and return to a normal life. He did physical therapy, continued Chemotherapy and even started a new treatment called Optune. Fernando fought very hard every single day to win this battle. While he was scared and worried at times, he never lost faith and always had hope that things would turn around. Sadly, this tumor was very aggressive and eventually spread to the left side of his brain and his brain stem. He chose to live the rest of his time in comfort, surrounded by those that meant the most to him, his family.

Fernando was the epitome of a family man. He became a father when he was only 18 years old but that did not discourage him. He vowed to be there for his children and give them the best life he could. He graduated from Marist High School and immediately went to work to support his family. By the age of 25 he was providing for three children and his wife. Sometimes he worked as many as 3 jobs to support his family. There were even a few months that he worked both day and night jobs while still coaching, he only ever got a few hours of sleep in between. Despite struggling at times, he was able to provide his family with memories and experiences that money could never buy. He was able to bring his family to the beautiful island of Puerto Rico where his family is from. He was also able to fulfill his children's wish of visiting Disney World in Florida. Other years he and his family also vacationed in The Poconos, where many beautiful moments were shared. His home was filled with love and laughter as he always made it his mission to see everyone smiling. He loved being around his family more than anything, whether that was having barbeques, domino tournaments, birthday parties, and family reunions, he truly was the glue that held everyone together. He was always there whenever a family member needed anything, ready to step up to the plate and lend a hand. He always said that family was the most important thing you could have in life. He believed that the love of a family could withstand any storm and instilled those ideals in his children. Even during the years he battled with Brain Cancer, he would always make sure to text or call family members or friends that he knew were going through difficult times in their own lives. He was the most selfless person one could ever meet, constantly thinking of others before himself. 

He took pride in being there to support those that have supported him but also in helping those that were less fortunate. After Fernando was diagnosed with Brain Cancer, he went through a difficult time between surgeries, treatments, side effects etc. Having experienced these trying moments, he felt that he needed to give back to those going through similar situations. He made contributions to charities such as Copa Maribel, St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital, and Shriners Hospital. 

Fernando was a beacon of light to his community. He dedicated 12 years of his life to coaching the youth of Jersey City in baseball, softball, and flag football. He began his coaching career in the very same league he himself played for when he was a young man, Roberto Clemente Little League. Every season he coached at least 3 teams but some seasons he coached as many as 5. He even branched off to coach in other leagues such as Pershing Field and Washington Park. During his third year of coaching he built his first travelling baseball team, The Pirates. This team later evolved to The Warriors who went on to win the Championship in the NJBYL League. During the next fall season, as well as the following spring season, The Warriors were the Runner Up in the same league. This team also participated in the Sports on the Beach tournament in Delaware where they placed 2nd overall. He also became director of the entire boys baseball division during these years. His summers were spent coaching both baseball and softball tournament and RBI teams. This gave him the opportunity to travel all over the state of New Jersey doing what he loved to do most. He and his teams even went as far as travelling to other states such as New York, Massachusetts, and Delaware. He was honored to be part of the coaching staff that led the Roberto Clemente Senior Girls Softball team to win the New Jersey State Championship in 2017. During the offseason, he held workouts in #5 school and Cordero while still coaching Fall Ball teams for both boys and girls. One of his greatest accomplishments was hosting the Pitch, Hit & Run Event in 2020. He was able to get over 150 players from all over Hudson County to participate in these categories for both baseball and softball. Anytime that he was not on the field, he would review old scorebooks from previous games, and even previous seasons to strategize for future games. Many nights he would sit in the backyard of his home accompanied by fellow coaches, Felix, Efrain, and Pito, to have “Coaches Meetings” where they would collaborate on future game play. He always wanted his teams to have the best chance of winning but as long as everyone was trying their best and having fun that's what mattered most to Fernando. Not many know this, but he would also review these scorebooks during his Chemotherapy treatments to help keep his mind intact. His memory began to deteriorate as the tumor continued to grow in his brain but coaching was one of his main priorities. He even coached one of his son’s baseball games right after having a biopsy of his brain back in 2017.

His dedication to the youth goes far beyond the field. He wanted to make sure that these children knew they had someone they could confide in, a friend they could lean on. His infectious laughter and smile, as well as his sense of humor could always bring light to an uneasy moment. Even if his teams were not winning, or a player was not performing as they wanted, Fernando never got upset. Instead, he used words of encouragement and a joke or two to help his players through these times. Many times he would show up to the field with his van full of players and always made sure everyone had a ride home when the games were done. It never mattered how far a player lived, or how early he had to wake up, to him getting every kid to the park was the priority. Coaching for all these years gave him so many proud moments, not only of his own children but of his other players as well. Regardless of whether a player was on his team or not, he was cheering for everyone. It was very important to him that these young children knew they had someone in their corner. He was your biggest fan not only on the field but in life as well. 

Fernando was the type of person that left a lasting impact on someone even if they only spoke to him for a few minutes. His charming personality and warm appearance gravitated strangers toward him. He would often tell stories of people opening up to him regardless of knowing him. He welcomed everyone and anyone with open arms and accepted them. He was never one to judge or speak ill of others. He radiated love and light and left a little bit of him everywhere he went. He was the most amazing person one could ever meet. His memory will forever be honored, and his legacy will live on in the hearts of his loved ones, through the lessons he taught to his players, and the words he spoke to all those that crossed his path.  

Fern Strong Forever.

Visitation is Friday, November 5, 2021, 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM at Riotto Funeral Home (For GPS, please use our parking lot address: 14 Stagg Street, Jersey City). Funeral Mass is Saturday, November 6, 2021, 11:00 AM at Holy Rosary Church, Jersey City. Cremation will be private. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Fernando's name to Copa Maribel at: https://copamaribel.com/ 

To send flowers to Fernando's family, please visit our floral store.


Services

Visitation
Friday
November 5, 2021

6:00 PM to 9:00 PM
Riotto Funeral Home
3205 John F. Kennedy Blvd.
Jersey City, NJ 07306

Funeral Mass
Saturday
November 6, 2021

11:00 AM
Holy Rosary Church
344 6th Street
Jersey City, NJ 07302

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