MLB’s Foolishness Regarding The First Responder Caps

By Danny Abriano

In the wake of the September 11th Terrorist Attacks, the Mets defied Major League Baseball and wore first responder caps on the field during the games that followed.

Sep 11, 2013; New York, NY, USA; New York Mets players and coaches stand for the national anthem before a game against the Washington Nationals at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

There was an edict from Major League Baseball that forbade the team from honoring the first responders by wearing the caps, and then general manager Steve Phillips told then manager Bobby Valentine that the Mets weren’t allowed to wear the first responder caps during the games.

Todd Zeile, who was the team’s first baseman, wasn’t having it.  The rest of the players followed his lead, and Valentine passed out the caps anyway.  The Mets wore caps representing a host of the first responders who showed heroism during and after the attacks, and it was a tremendous thing to see.

On September 11th, 2011, during the 10th anniversary of the attacks, the Mets again wanted to wear the caps during the game to honor the first responders.  Major League Baseball, led by Joe Torre, told the Mets that they weren’t allowed to wear the caps during the game.  They cited uniform rules, but their decision had nothing to do with that and everything to do with money.  Since the first responder caps weren’t licensed by New Era, Major League Baseball refused to allow the Mets to wear them.

Much like the 2001 team, the 2011 Mets were ready to defy the edict.  Although they were threatened with “prohibitive fines,” the players (as recounted by Josh Thole) were prepared to wear the first responder caps during the game anyway.  Before they had that chance, a representative from  Major League Baseball confiscated the caps.

Last night, during the 12th anniversary of the attacks, some of the Mets again thought about defying Major League Baseball and wearing the caps on the field.  However, what happened in 2011 happened again.  Tweeted Mets reliever David Aardsma:

Aardsma noted above that the caps were again snatched away from the players.  He then implored Mets fans to let Major League Baseball know about our desire for the team to be allowed to wear the first responder caps during the games that occur on September 11th.

Frankly, Major League Baseball has acted in a petty, disgraceful, tone deaf manner when it comes to the Mets and the first responder caps.  They insult our intelligence by claiming this has anything to do with the uniform policy.

As is stated above, this has to do with money and nothing else.  What makes this pathetic, is the fact that Major League Baseball has every team wear a cap with an American flag on the side during the September 11th games.  Those caps, of course, are licensed by New Era and cost $38.99.  Even more disgusting, is the fact that New Era and Major League Baseball are content profiting from September 11th and these flag caps.  Nowhere on their site does it note that any proceeds from sales of the caps go to September 11th charities such as Tuesday’s Children.

If Major League Baseball wants to stop looking foolish, and if they really care that much about licensing, all they need to do is have New Era create the first responder caps.  If they want to do the right thing, they’ll sell the hats and donate a large portion of the profits to September 11th charities.  Until then, this will continue be a needless issue every year.

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