MIAMI -- The significance of the night outweighed the importance of one regular-season game, and that sentiment came to light at Marlins Park before the first pitch of Monday's 7-3 Marlins win over the Mets was thrown.
After a touching pregame ceremony, the entire Mets team approached the Marlins and the two rivals embraced on a day Miami, South Florida and the baseball community paid tribute to Jose Fernandez.
After the national anthem, Mets manager Terry Collins called for Mattingly, and the two sides reminded all that they are both part of Major League Baseball's family.
"T.C. kind of yelled at me, 'Hey, Donnie! And they came across," Mattingly said. "It's a tough game on us, but it's a tough game on the Mets also. That's a tough situation they walked into today. I felt like they handled that with such class. T.C. was great."
The Marlins played for the first time since Fernandez and two friends were killed early Sunday morning in a boating accident.
Dee Gordon, like many, played while holding back tears.
The two-time All-Star second baseman set the tone on the field with his dramatic leadoff home run. During the at-bat, he stepped to the plate from the right side in honor of Fernandez. After taking a ball from Bartolo Colon, Gordon switched to his natural left side. Two pitches later, he belted his first home run of the season.
Pregame, Gordon was stunned to see the Mets extending their hands and hugs.
"For me, I was trying to keep it together," Gordon said. "When I saw them coming at us, I just couldn't hold it anymore. It was deeper than just baseball.
"Those guys are actually our opponent, but they're our family as well. It really is deeper than baseball."
Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton, a larger-than-life figure, was fighting back tears all game. And during the pregame ceremony, he gave a heartfelt pep talk to his teammates beyond the pitcher's mound.
Minutes later, he saw the Mets, and injured pitcher Jacob deGrom, his right arm in a sling, coming to offer support.
"I was trying to keep it together and I saw deGrom with his big old arm cast," Stanton said. "He couldn't really move it, but he was still reaching his arm to make us feel better. I can't believe how they acted and treated us. I know it's extremely tough on their side. They're in the playoff race, too, and they've got to still understand and take this game for what it was.
"I want to say thank you to them," Gordon said. "That was first-class of the Mets. I'm definitely grateful for them doing that. Grateful to Terry Collins, Bartolo Colon and Travis d'Arnaud. They didn't have to do that."
Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. He
writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.