TAMPA — For Alonso High School principal Kenneth Hart, it's nothing short of a miracle.
The Alonso High baseball jersey worn by Miami Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez while he was a student at the school was returned Thursday night just as mysteriously as it disappeared a night earlier. It had been taken during a vigil in his honor.
"It's returned a little bit of my faith in humanity," Hart said. "Somebody made a wrong decision, but somebody corrected it, by what means I don't know, and for us it puts closure on the tragedy surrounding Jose's passing."
Fernandez, 24, died Sunday in a boat crash off Miami Beach. His navy blue "home" jersey was hung on the Alonso Raven's dugout during the vigil so the 500 to 600 people who came to mourn Fernandez would immediately see it "and have a quick thought about Jose," said Ravens head coach Landy Faedo.
On Thursday night, a family spotted a large envelope leaning against the high school's ticket booth with the words "Jose's jersey" written on it, according to a release from Hillsborough County Public Schools.
The family brought the envelope to the school Friday morning and found the jersey inside. Hart said it hadn't sustained any damage, and no notes or other clues to its return were left.
There was no surveillance footage from the vigil, but the jersey was believed to have been taken sometime between 7:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m., according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office. No surveillance cameras caught the jersey's return, either.
But who took the jersey and why is beside the point, Hart said.
"At Jose's memorial we cried, we laughed, we celebrated his life and mourned his death and then, boom, that wound was reopened," Hart said. "Now it's okay, it's closed, and we have it back. We're not looking backwards, we're looking forward and we're just grateful it's home."
Contact Anastasia Dawson at [email protected] or (813) 226-3377. Follow @adawsonwrites.