Los Angeles Angels recorded a victory just 24 hours after the death of pitcher Tyler Skaggs but said “our team will never be the same again.”
On an emotional night, Skaggs’ number 45 jersey was hung in the dugout and the number drawn on the pitching mound as the Angels beat the Texas Rangers.
Angels general manager Billy Eppler said Skaggs was “an exceptional man with a life so full of promise”.
Skaggs died in his hotel on Monday at the age of 27.
Their match in Arlington scheduled for Monday was postponed but Angels officials said they opted to press ahead with Tuesday’s game, which they won 9-4, as they believed it is what the pitcher would have wanted.
Team-mates Andrew Heaney and Cam Bedrosian carried Skaggs’ jersey to the field with them as the team lined up to pay their respects.
There was a moment’s silence before play started and the player’s number was stencilled on the mound, shown on the scoreboard and stitched on to the Angels’ red jerseys.
“It was something unplanned,” Heaney said. “The jersey was hanging in his locker. We wanted to take him out there with us one more time.”
“For some reason that is incomprehensible to all of us, he lives on now only in our minds and our hearts,” Eppler added.
“Our team will never be the same without him. But forever we’ve been made better by him.”
Fifteen players joined manager Brad Ausmus for the post-game news conference. The coach said before the game that he hoped the playing field might provide a “refuge” for his players.
“Today is one of the hardest days,” Ausmus said. “I know it gets easier, but it’s difficult.”
“Skaggsy wouldn’t have wanted us to take another day off,” said centre fielder Mike Trout.
“It’s going to be tough these next couple days, the rest of the season, the rest of our lives.”
Rangers manager Chris Woodward acknowledged that the situation was all but unprecedented, saying, “They deserved to win today. They didn’t take one pitch off.”