MIAMI (CBSMiami) – An emotional pregame ceremony was held at Marlins Park Monday night to honor Miami Marlins star pitcher Jose Fernandez, who was killed in a boating accident Sunday.
“I miss him like crazy,” said 11-year-old Hailey Carricaburu. “It’s not the same without him on the team.”
“Very touching, very raw,” said Julio Llanes about the pre-game ceremony.
Fans held signs to express their condolences and wore their number 16 jerseys.
Photos of the 24-year-old graced the jumbotron as a somber version of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” played.
“It made me cry a lot because it’s sad to see him on pictures and he’s not here with us,” said Carricaburu.
All of the players, who were visibly emotional, wore black uniforms with the number 16 and Fernandez to honor him. They gathered at the mound and got down on one knee and were also hugged and greeted by Mets players before the first pitch.
“Even though Jose won’t physically see this but I know he’ll see it up there,” said Armando Velez.
Outside Marlins Park, a memorial of flowers, candles and balloons continues to grow.
Hundreds of fans lined up to sign a commemorative wall card and as they waited they reflected on Jose’s life.
“What could have been. A life too short. A life too short,” said Julio Llanes.
“I signed his shirt and I felt this pain like a knot in my heart and it was too much to endure that I had to walk away and cry it out so sad,” said fan Dayana Romero. “It’s devastating to know he just died all of a sudden.”
Some fans say the special bond Jose shared with his mother and grandmother is what they will cherish the most.
“Every time he came out on the mound, he will throw kisses to his mother and his grandmother. He was like a kid like his manager said,” Maria Oliva, a fan, told CBS4’s Marybel Rodriguez.
It was also his love for the game that set him apart. Monday morning on sports radio, it was a somber mood as many reflected on his career.
“He was just such a good player. He was so good and his potential ahead of how good a baseball player he could’ve been on top of everything else. I think it’s going to be a real stinger for this community for a long, long time,” said WQAM show host Joe Rose.
Fans shared stories of how he touched their lives and inspired them.
“His story, coming from Cuba, trying to come three times and being caught and he finally made it,” said Zac Ference. “It’s amazing how everybody’s come together just for one player… how much Jose meant for the Marlin community, Miami, the whole country.”
Meanwhile, inside the stadium on the mound where Fernandez shined, his number 16 has been painted in honor of their star.
“We looked forward to watching him grow up and we looked forward to watching him develop as a talent. It kind of just feels like numb. It kind of feels like now what. It’s a very difficult time,” said fan Michael Ortiz.