Baseball's role after the 9/11 tragedies
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
September 11, 2001.
It's a day nobody will ever forget. It's one of those days where you remember exactly where you were and what you were doing when you first heard the news of the tragedies that had fallen on this country.
Nothing was the same or really has been the same since, but in our little world of sports, Major League Baseball's role in helping bring this country back can't be denied.
Former NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle said one of his biggest regrets was not postponing games the weekend that John F. Kennedy was assassinated. MLB head man Bud Selig never had to wrestle with such a decision, because there was decision to be made. He had to postpone games.
As correct as the choice was to cancel games, it was even more right more than a week later when decided it was time to come back. America needed to start getting back to its normal routines.
And for many baseball was that routine.
Never was that more apparent than in New York, the city, of course hit hardest in the 9/11 attacks. The Mets' Shea Stadium served as a staging area for rescue supplies with members of the team helping out in any way they can. The Yankees went and visited firehouses and other areas where families were waiting word to find out if their loved ones were alive.
The Mets hosted the first sporting event back in New York 10 days after the attacks.
It might not have been much, but maybe for a second meeting a Derek Jeter or a Bernie Williams got people's minds off the awful events that were going on around them.
Players and fans all around the country paid tribute to New York's heroes, not the ones who played for the Yankees or the Mets, but the city's heroes, like the fire department, who lost more than 340 of their own on that tragic day.
Baseball began playing America the Beautiful during the seventh inning stretch, a practice still employed by the Yankees to this day. Players ran out to the field with little flags, fans had flags in the ball parks and chants of "U.S.A." would ring out in stadiums across the country.
The Mets hosted the first sporting event back in New York 10 days after the attacks and to say it was a weird feeling inside Shea Stadium that night does not even do the word weird justice.
Heck it was a weird feeling just watching the game on television.
One of the many knocks on Shea Stadium were the planes that would fly overhead from nearby LaGuardia Airport. Well on that night the anxiety level was amped up even further. You couldn't help but have an uneasy feeling each and every time a plane flew by, I'm sure there are some people who still have that feeling to this day.
But that all changed in an instant when Mets' catcher Mike Piazza lifted the spirits of a broken city by crushing a Steve Karsay pitch deep into the New York night, lifting the Mets to a win.
Shea Stadium exploded. People were crying. If you were home watching and were a Yankee fan or a Phillies fan or a fan of the Atlanta Braves you couldn't help but well up. It may sound stupid, but that home run let everyone in New York know that perhaps the mourning was over and it was time to start healing.
Nobody is ever going to forget what happened on September 11 or the days that followed. But baseball played a big part in helping everyone get back to it being normal again.