Wednesday, March 23, 2011

9/21/01

A few days after September 11th, I was sitting on a cardboard box, sharing a cubicle with a co-worker in Jersey City. The company I worked for had been located mainly in the World Financial Center with a few floors in the North Tower of 1 World Trade Center. A corner of 3 World Financial Center had been lopped off by the collapse of 1 WTC and we would never return there. The phone rang and I picked it up. "Hello?" a southern female voice asked. "How are you?" "Just fine, how are you today?" I answered. "How are you? Are you okay?" the voice plaintively asked back. She was from Georgia and she worked for a company that leased us our photo copiers. She'd given herself a week, and was now taking to the unfortunate task of asking how many, if any of her copiers were still around. Midway through our conversation, she apologized for having to call for this matter and started to break down crying pleading to me that she and everyone she knew were thinking about us all the time. I didn't quite know how to react other than to thank her and give her a few minutes. On September 21, 2001, the City of New York hosted its first major public event since the 9/11 attacks that felled the Twin Towers. As is fitting for Gotham's great metropolis, this event was a baseball game.

And even more fitting that this game should be played between the New York Mets and the Atlanta Braves. Normally this match-up delivers bowel-distending unease but something happened before this game started that made me, your neurotic and psychotic Mets fan, take pause.


Before the game, both teams were announced and they took the field along the baselines - the Mets along the first base side, the Braves along the third base side, aligning with their respective home and visiting dugouts. Much to Major League Baseball's dismay, the Mets were wearing FDNY and NYPD caps in lieu of their uniform caps. They would wear these for the duration of the season.


During the national anthem ceremonies which paid tribute to all who'd lost their lives on 9/11, the back outfield opened up and dozens of bagpipers marched onto the field playing 'Amazing Grace'. Everyone wept. Watching at home, I wept. Fans in the stands wept. Mike Piazza wept. And then, just before the game began, I saw something I never knew possible - the Mets and the Atlanta Braves met in the infield and embraced one another. I thought of the woman from Georgia who'd I'd spoken to on the phone and I hoped that she was a Braves fan and that she'd be watching right there at that moment.


That night delivered a great game. The Braves were winning 2-1 going into the eighth inning until Mike Piazza delivered a 2-run blast to left-center. It is, to me, the most significant home run by a New York Metropolitan. Ever.


And more miraculous was Armando Benitez being able to shut the Braves down in the ninth. Among his strikeouts was BJ Surhoff, shown here taking a bat to the Shea Stadium visitors' dugout after the game. Class.


6 comments:

  1. Google Blogger is unable to place paragraph breaks where writers insert them. My apologies for this ridiculous inconvenience.

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  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  3. I'm having the same problem with paragraphs. It's a code problem. I suggest you just put it in Word and reset the paragraphs as you like.

    I love the screen grab of Surhoff. Ha-ha. The Braves still haven't won a Series in a long while. The world is a good place so long as the Braves don't win the big one.

    Generations ahead will know how important Piazza's homer was. I forgot how deeply felt the Mets' commemoration was that night. Thanks for this. A fine, fine piece.

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  4. I thought I'd heard (maybe I dreamed it) that Citi Field was going to feature a statue of Piazza, post swing, watching that ball go out.

    Of course, now my team ain't got no money.

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  5. Seriously, Surhoff did that? Talk about lack of class. Great read, Slimbo.

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  6. Yeah, I was kinda shocked when I saw this (replay on SNY recently) - had to pause it and take the pic. God knows I've been frustrated like that but considering the mood of the night, you'd think he'd let it go.

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