A little over 24 hours after learning of the tragic death of Jose Fernandez, the Miami Marlins somehow, someway played a baseball game against the New York Mets on Monday.
The night was filled with emotional tributes, from a moment of silence to the entire team donning No. 16 "Fernandez" jerseys, to the dugout emptying postgame to form a circle around the pitching mound for one final goodbye.
But it was Marlins second baseman Dee Gordon who perhaps provided the most poignant moment of the evening. In his first inning at-bat, the left-handed hitting Gordon batted on the right side of the plate while emulating Fernandez’ batting stance. One pitch later, after going back to the left side, Gordon launched a solo home run — his first of the season — and tearfully rounded the bases before embracing his equally emotional teammates in the dugout.
"I don't have kids, so that's the best moment of my life," Gordon told FOX Sports afterward about his home run.
He later told reporters that his trip around the bases, “took forever. It seemed like it took forever…. I was just wondering why [Fernandez] wasn’t there standing on the top step, cheering for me.”
Given the circumstances, Gordon’s longball is undoubtedly one the standout moments of the 2016 MLB season, and won’t soon be forgotten. The same can be said of Fernandez, whose immense talent was trumped only by the joy with which he played the game.