What a surreal moment in Miami tonight.
Just 36 hours after the shocking and heartbreaking death of Marlins ace 24-year-old pitcher José Fernández, a Miami and Cuban-American icon, there was a game of baseball to be played. As the Marlins put it, “José would have wanted it that way.”
After the emotional pregame memorial ceremony were the two teams met and hugged in the middle of the field pregame, the first such gesture since following 9/11, Marlins’ lead off man in that #16 Fernández jersey like every Marlins player tonight, Dee Gordon took the batter’s box, eyes still wet.
Wearing Fernández’s very batting helmet, Gordon took the first pitch batting righty, even replicating the same mannerisms as José made when he batted. Then, after switching to the left side, Gordon hit one out, his first homer all season.
— MLB (@MLB) September 26, 2016
Gordon struggled to fight back tears rounding the bases, finally reaching the home dugout to the hugging embrace of his teammates and coaches.
Pure emotion from Dee Gordon. Bigger than baseball. pic.twitter.com/3oE6Vk6fxP
— Cards Nation (@CardsNation13) September 26, 2016
Dee Gordon also paid tribute to Fernandez with this shirt and topped it off with a home run to lead off:
Dee Gordon paid tribute to late Marlins ace José Fernández prior to tonight’s game.
Then led off the bottom of the 1st with a home run. pic.twitter.com/rTsQ3GoGzF
— ESPN (@espn) September 26, 2016
The Marlins watching from the dugout even mimicked the way their pitcher would react the HRs, slapping the padded barrier and throwing his fists in the air.
— Keith 🇱🇹🇨🇦 (@RespeckTheStar) September 27, 2016
Dee said postgame that hitting the HR for his friend, which he also noted was the longest ball he’s ever hit, was the best moment of his life.
Sports, man. What an incredible thing.