Yes, there is crying in baseball.
The Miami Marlins returned to the baseball diamond with a win over the New York Mets in their first game since the death of ace pitcher Jose Fernandez.
Dee Gordon led off the bottom of the first as a righty in the batter’s box in tribute to Fernandez. He wore the pitcher’s batting helmet as well. He switched to his lefty stance and exchanged helmets. He then hit an unlikely, emotional home run that just cleared the fence in right. The solo shot registered as the first homer for Brown this season and just the ninth of his career.
Gordon made a gesture toward the heavens after rounding the bases and the tears began to fall.
“It seemed like it took forever,” Gordon said of running the bases. “I was trying to get back to my teammates as fast as possible. I was just wondering why Jose wasn’t there standing on the top step cheering for me.”
The game featured a slowed-down, heart-wrenching version of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.” The Marlins players all wore #16 jerseys with “Fernandez” on the back. Behind the mound, a “16” appeared in tribute to the pitcher.
Fernandez, the 2013 Rookie of the Year, died early Sunday morning when the boat he traveled in crashed into a jetty near the shore in Miami. Two other men perished in the crash along with the 24-year-old.
Adam Conley pitched three scoreless innings, and added an RBI, in place of the deceased pitcher scheduled to make his final start of the season. Shortstop Adeiny Hechevarria went 2-for-3 with two RBI, Gordon went 4-for-5 with two RBI, and first baseman Justin Bour went 3-for-3 with two runs in a 7-3 Miami victory before 26,933 at Marlins Park. Reliever Mike Dunn got the win.
“There was strength, strength came tonight,” Giancarlo Stanton, who poured a beer on the mound after the fans went home, told reporters. “We all dug as deep as we could and we gave it all that we had. It’ll take time.”