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Remembering Sept. 11 and the role baseball played afterward

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff  September 11, 2011 08:46 AM

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It has been 10 years since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks that shook our nation. For all of us, the memories reflect our personal experiences. We all know where we were at that time and how it affected out lives.

Baseball is one of the things I remember the most. I helped cover the first game back in New York after the attacks, a game between the Mets and Braves at Shea Stadium on Sept. 21. Mike Piazza hit a home run in the bottom of the eighth inning to win the game.

The parking lot at Shea was a staging area for people working to find bodies at Ground Zero and so many of the Mets players helped out loading trucks. Bobby Valentine, it seemed, was there all day.

When the Mets won that game, the toughest cops you ever saw in your life had their faces in their hands, sobbing. It was just a baseball game, but that New York won seemed to make all the difference. Piazza was one of those players who never showed too much emotion. But even he was taken aback by the moment. We all were.

You're not supposed to cheer in the press box but everybody there was happy the Mets won.

I also remember being at Yankee Stadium for the World Series and seeing President Bush throw out the first pitch.

Derek Jeter told the President before the game not to bounce it and damn if he didn't throw a strike. I'm not sure how watching somebody throw a baseball made everything seem better, but it did.

"It was a pretty cool thing. It gave me goosebumps," said Tim Wakefield, who watched the game on television. "We were in New York the night before it happened"
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You get reminded of Sept. 11 almost every day when you're around baseball. Soldiers are honored at games all the time now and every Sunday they sing "God Bless America." I get e-mails all the time from service men and women in Iraq and Afghanistan saying they follow the Sox on line. Some of them are just kids. They're there because of what happened 10 years ago. But they love their Sox. In some small way, it makes my silly job seem like something worthwhile.

Terry Francona's son, Nick, is a Marine serving overseas in combat. Every day must a difficult one for him on top of the fact that he has such a public job.

Professional sports are nonsensical. A bunch of grown men playing baseball really shouldn't be so important to so many of us. But it is and in the wake of Sept. 11, it seemed even more important that people could go to baseball games or watch on television and forget, even for just a few hours, about what happened.

"It matters to people," Wakefield said. "I've had people who tell me how much it matters to them. Then you meet those soldiers and it makes you proud just to shake their hands."

Enjoy the baseball game today. Raise a toast to those defending your freedom and remember those who died.

We all have memories. If you want to share yours in the comment section, I'm sure other folks might get something out of it. Please stay on topic and be respectful. Thanks.

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