Dee Gordon’s Leadoff Home Run
You’ll notice that I didn’t mention which Dee Gordon leadoff home run in the title, but that’s because he only went deep once in 2016.
A noted non-power hitter, two-time all-star, two-time stolen base crown holder, and the holder of the 2015 batting title with a .333 average, Gordon was never known for his power. That made the first at bat of the Marlins half of the first inning on September 26th all the more improbable.
Of course, the contest that day played against the New York Mets was in one of the longest shadows in baseball history, just after all-star Jose Fernandez and two of his friends were killed in a boating accident. In Fernandez’ last start, on September 20th, he struck out 12 and held the Washington Nationals to just three hits over eight no-walk, shutout innings.
It was just the latest in a long-line of Fernandez’ triumphs. One of two Marlins (along with Stanton) who could get fans through the turnstiles, “Jose Day” regularly outdrew any other day by a wide margin. Just 24-years-old, the future was very bright for Jose and the Fish.
The news of Fernandez’ passing blindsided me – and the rest of South Florida. It was in a state of deep sadness that the Marlins and Mets took the field that day. Every Marlins player wore number 16 in tribute to their excitable friend. Take 10 minutes and watch this video by SB Nation. You’ll be glad you did.
After Adam Conley kept the Mets scoreless on one hit in the top of the first, Gordon took two Bartolo Colon pitches to lead off the bottom half of the inning. On the third pitch, he blasted the pill deep into the right field stands, then cried while running the bases. It was impossible to not somehow feel as if Fernandez was there. It wasn’t a just-barely-clear-the-fences type of shot either. This one went into the second deck.
There will never be another Jose Fernandez, but we’re left with Gordon’s blessed moment in time – a moment that transcended baseball.