Dee Gordon, left, and Giancarlo Stanton, a former prep star in the San Fernando Valley, on Monday.
You might remember Dee Gordon as a young, quick second baseman for the Dodgers a couple of years ago. He's the guy who was supposedly too soft as a hitter or fielder to play for LA, so the Dodgers traded him to Miami. All he did was win the league batting title, the stolen base title and the Gold Glove award for fielding excellence. This season he was outed as a user of performance-enhancing drugs and suspended for 80 games, and upon his return he has been just so-so.
Before Monday's game, the Marlins paid a very emotional tribute on the field to their fallen friend and star pitcher, Jose Fernandez, who died Sunday in a boating accident. Every member of the Marlins wore a uniform today with the name Fernandez and his number 16. Dee Gordon has been among the Marlins most affected by Fernandez' death. Gordon was photographed yesterday alone on the Marlins' field, kneeling at the pitching mound. The photo went around the world.
Today, Dee stepped to the plate as the first Miami hitter. He faced the Mets and the oldest pitcher in the big leagues, Bartolo Colon the former Angel. Dee hits left-handed, but for the first pitch he stood in as a right-handed batter and took ball one. A symbolic pitch for Jose. Dee then switched helmets and stood in from his usual left side. He took another ball, and on the next pitch Dee swung and hammered the ball. She is gone, as Vin would say. Dee's first home run of the year.
When he reached home plate, he lost it. Engulfed in the protective love of a team of number 16s, including Don Mattingly, the former Dodgers manager.
After the game, Gordon called it the best moment of his life.
"Dee Gordon just hit one of the greatest home runs in the history of this sport," baseball author Molly Knight tweeted.