The Miami Marlins paid their respects to Jose Fernandez in the team's first game back since the pitcher's death.
Fernandez and two male friends died early Sunday morning in a boating accident in Miami, and the Marlins cancelled their scheduled Sunday game against the Atlanta Braves in order to mourn the loss of their teammate.
It was a short reprieve from baseball, as the team went ahead with their game against the visiting New York Mets on Monday night.
Before the matchup began, the team and fans paid tribute to Fernandez, who was just 24 at the time of his death. Every member of the Marlins wore black jerseys with the ace's last name and number, 16. The Marlins stood on the field for an emotional ceremony, where his teammates, including Giancarlo Stanton and Christian Yelich, and Marlins coaches like Barry Bonds and Don Mattingly teared up as a trumpet solo played "Take Me Out to the Ballgame."
The Mets then joined the Marlins on the field, emotionally embracing each other and showing that baseball is one family that comes together during a tragedy.
Once the Mets players headed back to the away dugout, the Marlins circled the pitcher's mound, where Fernandez's number was spray painted. They knelt down, prayed, and rubbed dirt on their pants as tribute to Fernandez. The late pitcher grew up in Cuba where they didn't use resin, so he would rub dirt on his hands to keep them dry. Even after defecting to America, Fernandez kept the habit.
"If someone's struggling, pick them up. We're going to find a way to do this... For Jose," Stanton told his teammates gathered on the mound.
In a moment that felt similar to the home run Mike Piazza hit during the Mets' first game back at Shea Stadium after 9/11, Dee Gordon hit a long leadoff home run into the upper deck. The second baseman, who was wearing Fernandez's batting helmet and took his first pitch right-handed in honor of the pitcher, was visibly emotional as he made his way back to the dugout, tapping his chest and pointing skyward before being embraced by teammates. The second baseman had also worn a T-shirt that said RIP, with Fernandez's image replacing the "I" under his uniform during the day's warmups.
By the end of the third inning, the Marlins were already up 5-0, and the Mets TV announcers admitted that they had never experienced an atmosphere like this before, noting that people clearly came to the game to pay tribute. Marlins Park, which has rarely seen a full crowd this season, was packed to the brim with fans.
As expected, it was the most poignant dedication, though many Major League Baseball teams, including the Mets, began to honor Fernandez during their games on Sunday.
Among the tributes included Mets outfielder Yoenis Cespedes hanging a Fernandez jersey in the team's dugout for their game against the Philadelphia Phillies, and the Minnesota dugout featuring a No. 16 Twins jersey as they faced off against the Seattle Mariners. In addition to the Marlins and the Mets, teams across the MLB continued to pay their respects on Monday as well.