Mets, Yankees and New York fans come together at Citi Field to commemorate 20th anniversary of 9/11

Written by on September 12, 2021

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9/11: Memorials held round US to honor victims in Sept. 11 assaults

In New York Metropolis, on the Pentagon and Shanksville, Pennsylvania, ceremonies had been held to recollect the assaults that occurred 20 years in the past.

Workers Video, Wochit

NEW YORK — They got here wearing shirts proudly depicting the American flag Saturday, carrying miniature flags, carrying New York firefighter and police caps.

The ballpark was full of Mike Piazza jerseys as if he was nonetheless catching for the New York Mets.

They introduced indicators, “United We Stand! God Bless America! “We are going to always remember!’’

They usually chanted USA! USA! USA! all night time.

The standing-room solely crowd, one of many largest in Citi Discipline historical past, might have purchased tickets for a baseball recreation between the New York Mets and Yankees, however the actuality was the sport was only a backdrop in opposition to the emotional tribute on the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist assaults.

“We have now a job to play,’’ Yankees supervisor Aaron Boone mentioned. “We actually perceive the significance of the video games, nevertheless it’s vital every so often to have reminders that places issues in perspective.

“That is certainly one of today.’’

The flags atop Citi Discipline had been all at half-mast when the primary responders got here onto the sector carrying flags representing their organizations.

“New York State of Thoughts’’ bellowed from the scoreboard as followers stood, cheered, and cried, earlier than the singing of “America the Lovely.’’ 

Then, got here out the bagpipes, because the Mets and Yankees stood at full consideration in entrance of the dugouts as in the event that they had been at West Level, with tears streaming down followers’ faces.

When the music stopped, the Mets and Yankees walked throughout the sector and embraced one other identical to 2001, solely this time  they stood intermingled with each other on the foul traces. Each Yankee stood by a Mets’ participant and each Met stood subsequent to a Yankee.

The Nationwide Anthem was sung, and it gave the impression of each fan within the stands and participant on the sector was singing alongside, adopted by a roar of “USA, USA!

When the gamers retreated to their respective dugouts, one other video was proven, this time with the Mets and Atlanta gamers reminiscing about their first recreation again in New York on Sept. 21, 2001, which can eternally be generally known as the Mike Piazza recreation.

The ceremony concluded with former Mets supervisor Bobby Valentine and former Yankees supervisor Joe Torre throwing out the ceremonial first pitches.

Solely then did the followers lastly sit down.

Maybe probably the most lovely sight got here as soon as the sport began with airplanes flying overhead at Citi Discipline into the LaGuardia Airport.

By no means have these planes appeared and sounded so good.

It was a stark distinction to the silence at LaGuardia within the first recreation again on Sept. 21 after the assaults when there was a no-fly zone.

“We had been so used to seeing plans arriving or departing each three minutes,’’ Valentine mentioned. “It was so eerie to see no plans in any respect. The whole lot about that recreation was totally different and surreal. The boys standing on prime of the stadium by the sunshine posts with lengthy weapons, the canines strolling round and sniffing in my workplace at 7:30 within the morning, and all the police and army carrying fatigues.

“It was just like the world had modified.’’

It was as if the nation misplaced its innocence, with a lot anger and mistrust and suspicion.

But, on this superb night time, the Mets and Yankees made certain that all the good was celebrated when New York got here collectively as one, making an attempt to heal collectively.

“Each single day, we’re nonetheless recovering,’’ Mets first baseman Pete Alonso mentioned. “We’ve by no means stopped recovering as a result of it lower that deep.’’

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But, the tragedy additionally introduced triumph, and good overcoming evil.

That is what the Mets selected to rejoice, the therapeutic of America.

They introduced again greater than a dozen former gamers and coaches from that 2001 group, everybody from Al Leiter to Rey Ordonez to Mookie Wilson to Jay Payton to Lenny Harris to Glendon Rusch, sharing their recollections.

Leiter, who was residing within the Higher East Aspect along with his household that yr, remembers his daughter was scheduled to have her first day of college that day, and having to elucidate why posters had been on each gentle pole with photos of the lacking.

Valentine remembers being on a fireplace station rooftop with a number of of his gamers by Floor Zero days after the assault, looking, and seeing a pinkie finger on the ledge.

“These are the pictures,’’ Valentine says, “that stays with you eternally. You possibly can’t get that out of your thoughts.’’

The Mets weren’t making an attempt to erase these recollections of their poignant ceremony, vowing by no means to overlook, however quite rejoice a nation coming collectively.

“There was a lot concern and anger, I knew we needed to play to assist that recreation 20 years in the past,’’ Leiter mentioned. “I feel now, with the Yankees and Mets taking part in in opposition to one another on this date for the primary time, can also be simply as particular.

“Go searching. I feel New York wanted this.’’

Edgardo Alfonso, surrounded by reporters on the sector earlier than the sport, circled, appeared on the boisterous crowd, felt the vitality, saying it resurrected recollections from 20 years in the past once they had been the primary sporting occasion in New York after the assaults.

It was the sport Piazza grew to become a hero, hitting the game-winning house run in opposition to Atlanta, lifting the spirits of a complete metropolis.

“When he hit that house run,’’ Edgardo Alfonzo mentioned, “it felt like we received the World Sequence.’’

And this night time, the Mets and Yankees will inform you, felt simply as large.

It was greater than only a baseball recreation.

It was a catharsis.

“At present has a lot reverence to it,’’ Piazza mentioned. “It was actually fascinating and touching to see a number of the ceremonies at Floor Zero. I feel it’s essential to not solely recall, bear in mind and replicate, however to teach the subsequent technology and educate them what transpired. The lesson must be that life is treasured, and life may be quick. It’s important to love the folks round you. It may well finish in a short time.’’

Valentine was subtly reminded when he was regaling buddies and visitors with tales. He was interrupted by a younger Mets’ worker, who launched himself, caught his hand out, and thanked him.

“My dad was a firefighter, and was killed at 9/11,’’ he mentioned. “I used to be three years previous. My brother was 1. However I wished to say thanks for the whole lot you probably did for us.’’

Valentine checked out him, and softly mentioned, “Thanks, however we didn’t do sufficient.’’

The sport went on, and though the Yankees and Mets are preventing for his or her playoff lives, there isn’t a winner. No loser. For at the least an evening, bringing everybody collectively as soon as once more was an imposing triumph.

“For everybody to remain collectively, and for the love of this metropolis,’’ Mets supervisor Luis Rojas mentioned, “I really feel blessed simply to be right here.’’

So did each soul who walked via the Citi Discipline gates.

Observe Nightengale on Twitter: @Bnightengale.

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