Mets, Yankees and New York followers come collectively at Citi Subject to commemorate twentieth anniversary of 9/11
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 crammed with 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!’’
And so they chanted USA! USA! USA! all evening.
The standing-room solely crowd, one of many largest in Citi Subject historical past, might have purchased tickets for a baseball sport 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 twentieth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist assaults.
“We’ve a task to play,’’ Yankees supervisor Aaron Boone mentioned. “We actually perceive the significance of the video games, nevertheless it’s necessary every so often to have reminders that places issues in perspective.
“That is considered one of lately.’’
The flags atop Citi Subject have 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 signing of “God Bless America.’’
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 have 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 similar to 2001, solely this time they stood intermingled with each other on the foul strains. Each Yankee stood by a Mets’ participant and each Met stood subsequent to a Yankee.
The Nationwide Anthem was sung, and it appeared like 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 sport again in New York on Sept. 21, 2001, which can perpetually be referred to as the Mike Piazza sport.
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 stunning sight got here as soon as the sport began with airplanes flying overhead at Citi Subject 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 sport again on Sept. 21 after the assaults when there was a no-fly zone.
“We have 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. Every part about that sport was completely different and surreal. The boys standing on high 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 the entire police and navy 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 wonderful evening, the Mets and Yankees made positive that the entire good was celebrated when New York got here collectively as one, attempting 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 reduce that deep.’’
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But, the tragedy additionally introduced triumph, and good overcoming evil.
That is what the Mets selected to have fun, the therapeutic of America.
They introduced again greater than a dozen former gamers and coaches from that 2001 workforce, 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 together with his household that yr, remembers his daughter was scheduled to have her first day of faculty that day, and having to clarify why posters have been on each gentle pole with footage of the lacking.
Valentine remembers being on a hearth station rooftop with a number of of his gamers by Floor Zero days after the assault, searching, and seeing a pinkie finger on the ledge.
“These are the photographs,’’ Valentine says, “that stays with you perpetually. You’ll be able to’t get that out of your thoughts.’’
The Mets weren’t attempting to erase these recollections of their poignant ceremony, vowing by no means to overlook, however slightly have fun a nation coming collectively.
“There was a lot concern and anger, I knew we needed to play to assist that sport 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 be simply as particular.
“Go searching. I feel New York wanted this.’’
Edgardo Alfonso, surrounded by reporters on the sector earlier than the sport, rotated, appeared on the boisterous crowd, felt the power, saying it resurrected recollections from 20 years in the past once they have been the primary sporting occasion in New York after the assaults.
It was the sport Piazza turned a hero, hitting the game-winning dwelling run in opposition to Atlanta, lifting the spirits of a complete metropolis.
“When he hit that dwelling run,’’ Edgardo Alfonzo mentioned, “it felt like we gained the World Sequence.’’
And this evening, the Mets and Yankees will let you know, felt simply as massive.
It was greater than only a baseball sport.
It was a catharsis.
“At the moment has a lot reverence to it,’’ Piazza mentioned. “It was actually attention-grabbing and touching to see a number of the ceremonies at Floor Zero. I feel it’s essential to not solely recall, keep in mind and mirror, however to coach the subsequent era and train them what transpired. The lesson needs to be that life is treasured, and life might be brief. It’s important to love the folks round you. It might finish in a short time.’’
Valentine was subtly reminded when he was regaling mates 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 3 years outdated. My brother was 1. However I needed 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 combating for his or her playoff lives, there isn’t a winner. No loser. For no less than an evening, bringing everybody collectively as soon as once more was an impressive 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 by means of the Citi Subject gates.
Comply with Nightengale on Twitter: @Bnightengale.
This text initially appeared on USA TODAY: Mets, Yankees, New York followers commemorate twentieth anniversary of 9/11
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