For the Miami Marlins, the last 72 hours have been unimaginable.
On Sunday, news broke that the team’s ace, 24-year old Jose Fernandez passed away in a boating accident in the early hours of the morning. Shockwaves were sent through baseball. Moments of silence were held all around the MLB that day, with the Marlins’ game against the Braves cancelled in the wake of the news.
After a day of mourning, baseball was ready to played. The Marlins and Mets squared off last night in the first game post-Fernandez for Miami, which began with a touching tribute to the pitcher before the game was played. The Marlins all wore Fernandez’s #16 during the game and there wasn’t a dry eye in either dugout. After the ceremony, the Marlins and Mets lined up and embraced each other before the game. When the Marlins took the field, Giancarlo Stanton called a team huddle at the pitcher’s mound to tell his teammates how much they meant to him and that they’d get through this tragedy.
But baseball, as always, found another way to be poetic.
Enter Dee Gordon, one of Fernandez’s closest friends on the team. Gordon honored Fernandez by taking the first pitch of his at-bat right-handed with Fernandez’s batting helmet, then switched over to his natural left-side where he honored him the best way possible:
MLB (@MLB) September 26, 2016
Dee Gordon tried to explain his lead-off HR last night, his 1st of the season. pic.twitter.com/nianjCebmF— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) September 27, 2016
It was a surreal moment. Here was Gordon, hitting his first home run of the season, crying his eyes out while running the bases. It was an even more heart-breaking scene when he returned to the dugout to be embraced by his teammates. The Marlins won the game 7-3, with Gordon going 4-5 in the process.
After the game ended, the Marlins had another moment on the field, dropping their hats on the pitcher’s mound to honor Fernandez.
Despite the shadow of sadness cast over Marlins Park on Monday night, it was an amazing nine innings of baseball. For the Marlins, they’ll continue to fight for a Wild Card spot – but you better believe they’ll be thinking of Jose Fernandez every step of the way.