MIAMI, Fla. -- The Miami Marlins and thousands of Miami Marlins fans paid tribute to Jose Fernandez Monday, 24, one day after he was killed in a boating accident off the coast of Miami Beach.
In a somber moment before first pitch, a moment of silence, a trumpet solo playing ‘Take me out to the ballgame’ and other gestures of remembrance honored Fernandez.
Every team member wore jerseys with Fernandez’ number 16 and his name on their backs. The team announced the number will be retired.
Around Marlins Park, Fernandez’ name and number were on display on nearly every screen. Fans were seen wearing his jersey.
A memorial grew throughout the day and night outside the ball park, where fans wrote messages, left flowers and candles, and paid their respects.
Investigators with Florida Fish and Wildlife are still working to piece together exactly what caused Fernandez’ boat to slam into a jetty in killing Fernandez and two other people on board.
27-year-old Emilio Macias and 25-year-old Eduardo Rivero were also killed in the accident.
The scope of Fernandez’ impact seemed endless at Marlins Park Monday.
“It’s a different kind of energy. It’s almost as if he’s here in spirit,” described Marlins fan, Abraham Ruiz.
Ruiz met Fernandez several times through a friend he has who also plays for the major leagues.
“He was a big leaguer but he was one of us. He treated everybody right,” Ruiz said. Without barely knowing me, he made conversation. He took a picture with my daughter.”
Michael Lopez plays for a Special Olympics softball team, the Miami Magics. “He taught me how to throw a ball,” Lopez said.
Lopez said Fernandez was his idol. “He was so nice to us,” Lopez said.
Marlins players were seen tearing up during the game and especially emotional during Fernandez’ tribute.
He was top of mind, motivating big plays, like a lead-off home run for the Marlins.
“We’re definitely going to miss him. He’s definitely going to leave a big gap in Miami,” Ruiz said.