Remembering 9/11: Baseball will once again unite the city

Posted on September 5, 2011

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By Jessica DeMattia

jbdematt@eagle.fgcu.edu

There’s nothing more American than baseball and apple pie.

On September 21, 2001, ten days after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, one home run helped begin the
healing process for millions of New Yorkers. The New York Mets were playing the Atlanta Braves in the first baseball game in New York since the attacks. Going into the bottom of the eigthth inning, the Mets had trailed the Braves 2-1. With Desi Relaford pinch-running for Edgardo Alfonzo, and Steve Karsay on the mound, Piazza hit arguably the most significant home run in Mets history.

Ten years later, Piazza will be in Queens again for 9/11. He will be on the receiving end of John
Franco’s first pitch prior to the team’s Sunday night game against the Chicago Cubs. Along with
Piazza and Franco, former manager Bobby Valentine and former players Robin Ventura and Todd Zeile will be on hand for what is sure to be an emotional night for many people who were
immediately impacted by the events of that day.

Even though millions of lives were changed in that one day, patriotism and baseball brought them all together on that one special night. You didn’t have to be a Mets fan; Mayor Rudy Guiliani, a lifelong Yankees fan, was in attendence that night, in support of his city and the people in it.

Perhaps because it was such an emotional night, it perennially ranks among the top moments in New York Mets history.

“It brought hope and excitement back to a city that was destroyed,” said Denise Winter, of Bellmore, New York, “And it brought a sense of unity for everybody there or watching.”

Andrew Vazzano, a Mets blogger recalls sitting on a friend’s porch and seeing the home run through the living room window. “A towering shot to center field, New Yorkers had a reason to cheer,” he says, “It didn’t matter if you were a Mets fan, a Yankees fan, or no fan at all. It was, in a word, euphoric.”

Both Vazzano and Winter agree that the Mets victory that night was the first bright spot for the city since the attacks. It was the first moment where New Yorkers could smile and be happy about something.

Ten years later, the Mets will not be celebrating the anniversary of a horrific attack; they will be
paying tribute to the fallen, and they will be paying tribute to the servicemen and women who are still fighting for our freedom and protection.

This September 11 will almost certainly be different; it is the first 9/11 since the death of Osama Bin Laden and the 9/11 memorial in New York City will be opening for the first time. There is a more uplifting atmosphere in the city.

The terrorist attacks brought together millions of people who, in regular circumstances, would have never batted an eye at each other. Baseball made them smile again. Ten years later, they are still united.

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Posted in: Jessica DeMattia