On Saturday, the American sporting world was rocked by the untimely passing of Miami Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez.
Media in Miami reported news that a boating accident off the coast of Miami had killed three people, one of whom was Fernandez. The 24-year-old was precociously talented; he had been voted Rookie of the Year in 2013, and one of the league's best players both that same year and in 2016. He also boasted a 100mph pitch speed.
Last night, Fernandez's team - the Marlins - returned to the field after their weekend game with Atlanta was naturally postponed.
Enter his teammate and friend Dee Gordon, who first donned Fernandez's helmet and lined up right-handed, despite being a lefty, in tribute to Fernandez.
— Matt DeBlasi (@MattDeBlasi) September 26, 2016
Then, Gordon - reverting to his usual swing stance - pulled this out of the bag.
— MLB (@MLB) September 26, 2016
Different postcode. Standing ovation. Tears for a fallen friend.
What's even more incredible is that it was a lead-off home run and Gordon's first of the entire season. Indeed, as per ESPN's Darren Rovell, he has hit a homer just once every 269 at bats throughout his career. But he came up trumps when batting in memory of his friend.
The New York commentary team, who could be forgiven for leaning towards the Mets as opposed to Gordon's Marlins, were audibly moved, with the lead comm simply announcing:
He's hit one for Jose.
Speaking after the game, Mets catcher Travis d'Arnaud - one of the players against whom Gordon's home run was scored, admitted he cried as Gordon approached home plate.
— New York Mets (@Mets) September 27, 2016
Gordon, too, was near speechless when interviewed by Fox Sports Florida post-game, telling the reporter:
I don't have kids, so that's the best moment of my life - hitting a home run for him.
Gordon also said he told his teammates that if they didn't believe in God, they might as well start.
— FOX Sports Florida (@FOXSportsFL) September 27, 2016
Dee Gordon batted right-handed for one pitch in tribute to Jose Fernandez. Then he hit a leadoff homer. Unbelievable. Unreal. Incredible.
— Anthony DiComo (@AnthonyDiComo) September 26, 2016
What Dee Gordon did tonight will go down as one of the greatest moments in the history of the game. You'll see that clip til the end of time
— Baseball Fam (@ShtBallPlayrsDo) September 27, 2016
Just saw Dee Gordon's home run, and now I'm just sitting here crying.
— Robert Mays (@robertmays) September 26, 2016
The perfect Jose Fernandez tribute; an almost eerily perfect send-off for a player who would have gone on to become one of the greats of his generation but, above all else, was a hugely popular man amongst his peers.