The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been Baseball. … But Baseball has marked the time… it’s a part of our past… It reminds of us of all that once was good and it could be again.
In the aftermath of the 9/11 terror attacks, then Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig postponed a week’s worth of games. The following weekend, the NFL resumed play, but the Jets were in Foxborough to meet the Patriots, and the Giants were in Kansas City to take on the Chiefs. So, exactly ten days later, professional sports returned to New York when the Mets hosted the Braves at Shea Stadium and our country began the healing process from 9/11.
Both the New York Mets and the New York Yankees got the okay from Major League Baseball to don commemorative hats to honor 9/11 first responders in their September 11, 2020, games. Major League Baseball had not previously allowed either the Mets or Yankees to wear caps during games featuring the logos of the FDNY, NYPD, and other organizations that aided in the effort.
the one constant through all the years, Ray, has been Baseball. … But Baseball has marked the time. This field, this game: it’s a part of our past, Ray. It reminds of us of all that once was good and it could be again.
I was a Sophomore in college at the University at Albany in New York when all of our lives changed forever. For the rest of my life, I will remember what I was doing, where I was, and what happened the moments, days, and weeks after the worst terrorist attack on U.S. soil.
Wondering when the next attack would happen to just being proud to be an American, there are a handful of moments and emotions that will be forever etched into my memory on what happened and what I was feeling during those crazy times. One of those memories that the Nation and I will forever be etched in our collective memories was the first MLB baseball game in New York after the attacks. After 9/11, sports played a huge role in the healing of our country.
With the tragedy of September 11 still fresh in our memories, the Atlanta Braves traveled to Flushing Queens to face the New York Mets in the first game played in New York City after the attacks. Everyone will not remember the score of that game; hey, I had also to look it up (the Mets beat the Braves 3-2).
However, the one memory that happened during that September 21, 2001 game that many will never forget was when then New York Mets catcher Mike Piazza swatted a dramatic go-ahead two-run home run that not only helped his team win a game against its biggest rival but gave the Empire State a reason to smile again.
“People just wanted to cheer about something,” Piazza had said of his home run several years ago as a guest on the TV show MLB Central.
We all know that Baseball is part of the fabric of our Nation, but it wasn’t until September 21, 2001, that many of us realized how Baseball is and will always be the American Pastime. Forget the NFL; it is Baseball that we all turned to in those emotional times to help us heal.
The game in which more than 41,000 fans attended wasn’t far from the Shea Stadium parking lot that served as a relief station for Ground Zero front-line workers, and the families of those lost earlier in the catastrophe did we all come together as our Nation to hope and search for some normalcy.
That night we all came together as Americans, despite which team we rooted for during the season. That notion was embodied when New York City Mayor Rudy Rudy Giuliani, a well-known Yankees fan, was heartily cheered by the Mets faithful.
During that game, there were many noteworthy moments from Diana Ross’s pregame performance of “God Bless America” and Liza Minnelli’s singing of “New York, New York” during the seventh-inning stretch that magical night two teams exchanging hugs before the first pitch.
We are now 20 years removed from that horrible moment in our Nations’s history, and there are many American’s who only know what life is like post-9/11, and there are many American’s who remember where and when they were that faithful day in 2001. However, many like myself turned towards Baseball ten days later to celebrate America and celebrate each other. Baseball brought us together even for a night, which as a country needed the most. James Earl Jones famously said in Field of Dreams about how Baseball is part of the American fabric: “the one constant through all the years, Ray, has been Baseball. … But Baseball has marked the time. This field, this game: it’s a part of our past, Ray. It reminds of us of all that once was good and it could be again.”
Tomorrow, the New York Mets and the New York Yankees will face each other at Citi Field, the first-ever September 11 game between the Mets and the Yankees. There will be moments of silence; former New York Mets manager Bobby Valentine will throw out the ceremonial first pitch to former New York Yankee Manager Joe Torre. The Mets and Yankees will once again wear first responder hats during the weekend. Maybe on Saturday, we as a nation can come together again in Flushing Queens and celebrate and honor America.
Tomorrow, let’s take a moment to remember that America is the greatest country and that sport of Baseball is and will forever be America’s Pastime. Baseball is fundamentally American, no matter what others might say.