No one on the Miami Marlins will ever wear Jose Fernandez’s No. 16 again, owner Jeffrey Loria announced Monday, a day after the star pitcher was killed in a boating accident.
But that will only take effect after Monday night, when Marlins players honored Fernandez by each wearing his jersey number during their game against the Mets, in which he had been scheduled to start.
And second baseman Dee Gordon started the game with an almost unbelievable tribute to his teammate, slamming the third pitch out of the park for a lead-off home run.
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Gordon was overcome as he touched home, hugging his teammates as he walked back to the dugout.
Fernandez and two others were found dead on Sunday morning when the boat they were on, which authorities have said appeared to be traveling very fast, crashed on a jetty off Miami Beach.
That day, the Marlins held an emotional press conference where the players and coaching staff fought back tears remembering the 24-year-old ace. The team also painted his No. 16 on the pitcher's mound and placed flowers alongside the rubber.
Fernandez dazzled on the mound for Miami in his brief career and the team will recognize his achievements in Monday's game.
The Marlins canceled Sunday's game against the Braves following Fernandez's death. Barring a need for that contest in the playoff race, Miami will only play 161 games this season.
The Marlins' gesture to have every player don Fernandez's number is reminiscent of the league's annual remembrance of Jackie Robinson. Every season, every player on every team wears his No. 42 for one day in April.
Fernandez will likely go down in history as the last Marlins player to wear No. 16, besides the players wearing it in his memory. While the team has not announced the plan officially, Monday's gesture points in that direction.
The game Monday night also included a moment of silence.
It's the first time in Marlins history that an active player has died. It is a rare event in sports and one that has no playbook. Miami could opt to hold more tributes for Fernandez next season as well, including at the 2017 All-Star Game.