It’s easy for all of us to recite where we were and what we were doing when the terrible news of 9/11 hit. For myself, I was a freshman in high school, trying to get through the first full week of classes. It was just another Tuesday as a kid, hoping I wouldn’t have a lot of homework that night so I could play video games and watch some TV. I walked into one of my least favorite classes, Biology, and what was a regular day turned into one that I will never forget.
Like most kids who were in schools all over America on 9/11/01, there was a lot of confusion as our teachers either got a weird sounding phone call or got pulled into the hallway. My Biology teacher got pulled into the hallway, and when she came back in, there were no words spoken, other than, “Oh, crap.” Without saying another word, she pulled out the TV and threw on a random channel, because they all were showing the same thing. I was in shock; couldn’t believe my eyes. After seeing the second plane crash into the second tower, we all knew that this was more than just an accident. The rest of that day in school was a blur, and I got to watch TV when I got home that night, but not exactly the kind of television I was hoping for.
The way Bud Selig handled Major League Baseball during this tragedy was one of the few times I agreed with him. As MLB play was suspended and I watched the Shea Stadium parking lot become a refuge area, I couldn’t have been more proud to be an American during this time, and more specifically, a New Yorker. To watch Robin Ventura, Mike Piazza, Bobby Valentine and others forget about baseball for a week and a half and dedicate themselves to helping those who were affected directly by these attacks was amazing. With the 24/7 news outlets and glorification of sports through ESPN, we tend to put professional athletes on a pedestal and forget they’re not machines. They’re regular people just like us, they just play a game for a living.
Bringing baseball back to New York on September 21st for the Braves to take on the Mets at home was by far the best idea Bud Selig has ever had. For the last week and a half, everyone in America was focused on the terrorist attacks, rightfully so, but with that being the only thing on television, there was no escape from this nightmare. With the Mets taking the field, it was the perfect three-hour diversion before having to go back to what had become a horrid reality.
There was no way the Mets would lose the game that night, it just wouldn’t have been right. Mike Piazza has never hit a home run that meant as much as that one. Even just thinking about Shea erupting, I get goosebumps. What I enjoyed the most was what announcer Howie Rose pointed out as New York took the lead in the bottom of the eighth inning. There were first responders on hand for the game, some taking a break from trying to find survivors around the clock in the rubble that used to be the Twin Towers. After Piazza’s blast, the camera cut to one man in particular, smiling. After a week and a half of working non-stop and being upset about this tragedy, someone hitting a baseball over a fence made him smile. If that doesn’t show you baseball is American’s favorite pastime, then I don’t know what does.
I will never forget 9/11, those who were lost on that day, and those who were lost defending our country since, and I’m sure I’m not the only one. However, it was Piazza’s home run that helped start the healing process for a grieving city and nation, and that I will also always remember.