As we observe the ninth anniversary of 9/11, I’m sure everybody remembers where they were that horrifying day in 2001.
I’m sure everybody called their friends and family to make sure everything was all right, and I’m sure the last thing on most people’s minds was sports.
I live and breathe sports, and that morning I wouldn’t have been able to pick Kobe Bryant out of a lineup. My attention was with those people that had to suffer through such a devastating tragedy and what it meant for our country’s history. Sports had to wait until things settled and the dust cleared.
The human spirit is a wonderful thing, and I clearly remember the emotions that came to the surface while watching the first baseball game played after the attacks.
In the middle of a heated pennant race, Bud Selig, the commissioner of Major League Baseball, decided to delay the season. This was absolutely the right call.
Ten days later, when the season resumed at Shea Stadium in New York, the Atlanta Braves took on the New York Mets. A national anthem has never been sung with such relevance or beauty as it was that night, before the game. Countless fans and players were in tears, and the hearts and minds of an entire country watched as our national pastime resumed. The flag flew high that night, no moment of silence has ever felt so long, and our country took pause to find any enjoyment they could.
Team camaraderie didn’t just apply to Mets and Braves during that game, it applied to all of us. A united spirit overcame a country reeling from a nightmarish event and we were suddenly all on the same team.
Signs held by fans were littered throughout Shea Stadium and each one conveyed a similar message, “We will never forget.”
Firefighters and police officers were down on the field and were greeted by both teams and thanked for their heroic service.
Rivalries and pennant races took a back seat to handshakes and prayers.
Never in my lifetime have I seen such a simple thing like a baseball game mean so much to so many people. To endure is to survive, and that night in New York, Americans showed the world what they’re made of.
Although the Mets finished 6 games back of the Braves and missed the playoffs, that night, they won. Mike Piazza’s homerun gave the Mets a 3-2 lead which they didn’t relinquish. People who have watched a lot of sports knew that look in the eyes of the Mets players and it told the whole story. There was no way they were losing that game. They had the hopes of millions dangling by a thread, and nothing would get in their way of providing even a tiny bit of happiness to an ailing city.
For one night, an entire country was rooting for the team from New York, and we won.