In the Miami Marlins’ first game since star pitcher Jose Fernandez was killed in a weekend boating accident, second baseman Dee Gordon stepped up to the plate wearing his fallen teammate’s jersey and crushed a lead-off home run ― his first of the season.
Tears streamed down Gordon’s face as he rounded the bases. As he crossed home plate, Gordon gestured to the sky before returning to the dugout, where his teammates ― each wearing Fernandez’s now-retired No. 16 jersey ― came to comfort him.
The emotional scene inside Marlins Park could not have been scripted more perfectly.
In a tribute to his teammate, Gordon, a lefty batter, stepped to the plate batting right and wearing Fernandez’s batting helmet. After taking the first pitch, Gordon swapped the helmet for his own, and switched to the left-handed batters’ box. With a 2-0 count, Gordon homered to right field to give the Marlins the early 1-0 lead.
“Unbelievable,” a game announcer said after Gordon’s at-bat. “Just unbelievable ― his eyes wet with emotion as he rounded the bases, his first home run of the season.”
Fernandez, 24, and two others were killed in a boating accident early Sunday in south Florida. In a statement confirming Fernandez’s death, the Marlins announced the team had canceled Sunday’s home game against the Atlanta Braves.
“Sadly, the brightest lights are often the ones that extinguish the fastest,” Marlins owner Jeffrey H. Loria said in a statement. “José left us far too soon, but his memory will endure in all of us.”
Monday’s game against the New York Mets was the Marlins first since Fernandez’s death. After four innings, the Marlins led the Mets 7-0.