The Trophy Case: The Return of Sports after 9/11
Updated: Nov 11, 2020
By: David Blais
Asst. Sports Editor
It is a day we shall never forget. The day the world stopped turning. Where were you when it happened? How did you find out? These are all phrases and questions that are brought upon every year when discussing 9/11. The September 11th 2001 attacks on the world trade center, the pentagon, and a plane heading toward the White House that crashed into a field in Pennsylvania would turn out to be the single deadliest terrorist attack in human history. The attack claimed 2,977 innocent lives in total. Americans were shocked, scared, and filled with grief. A gloomy cloud was casted over America making it hard for people to smile and be happy. As a result of the attacks, large gatherings were put on hold including sporting events.
It is September 17th, 2001. The first major sporting event is about to take place since September 10th. It is a MLB season game between the Milwaukee Brewers and Arizona Cardinals. It is a beautiful clear night at Busch Stadium in St, Louis, Missouri making it the perfect environment for what is about to occur: one of the most hauntingly beautiful 9/11 tributes. Before the game, long-time Cardinals announcer Jack Buck read an original poem he wrote for that night titled “For America.” The poem contained lyrics about patriotism and the response of Americans towards terrorism. The fans in the stadium began to roar once the poem had concluded giving America a sense of hope and pride. Buck at the time was 77 and in poor health. Less than a year later, he would pass away from a combination of various illnesses making it even more chilling when watching.
The first major sporting event to occur in New York following the attacks was a baseball game between rivals Atlanta Braves and New York Mets on September 21st, 2001. Before the game, tributes took place and both teams lined up on the field for the national anthem. They proceeded to shake hands and hug each other showing support and love. Once the game began, it was back to business. It’s the bottom of the eight inning and the Mets are down 2-1. Stepping up to the plate was Mets catcher Mike Piazza.When he was stepping up to the plate, he recalled in a later interview “...I wanted to cry, but I needed to remind myself we need to go out there and do our jobs.” Piazza hit a two-run home run which sent the emotional New York crowd in a frenzy. The crowd had a reason to cheer again making the events that occurred 10 days earlier non-existent. The two-run home run would end up sealing a 3-2 victory over the Braves creating one of the most emotional and iconic sports moments ever.
In 2001, the Yankees ended up making it to the World Series against the Arizona Diamondbacks. The World Series was postponed due to the attacks to October 27th, 2001. The first two games had taken place in Arizona, with them taking a commanding 2-0 lead in the series against the Yankees. Game 3, taking place at Yankee Stadium in New York, the Yankees needed to win at home. Then President George W. Bush wanted to throw out the first pitch for this game to show support and to give New York more hope. His advisors and other personnel were telling him it was too much of a safety risk and to not do it. President Bush ignored these threats and took a chance for the city of New York. He later stated in an interview “I don’t think you can lead a nation if you are worried about your own safety. I don’t know that you can send a signal to people, let’s get on with our lives if the president is concerned about his own life.” While wearing a New York Fire Department jacket, he was greeted with a thunderous applause. He then approached the mound and went to go throw the pitch. He ended up throwing a strike right down the middle. That singular pitch is regarded by many as a symbol of hope, normalcy, and what they needed to see to know everything was going to be alright. In other terms, it was the turning point for America post 9/11 to return to life back as normal.
Sports is one of the few things in life that can truly unite people and bring them together. It is community and pride that are the very foundation of any sport. People need to work as a team in order to be successful. Post 9/11, Americans showed support to one another and were there. The city of New York was greeted and celebrated by every single sports team in the country, including our very own Boston Red Sox. Without one another, the world as a whole would not be able to succeed. That is why sports were needed post 9/11 to show support, love, patriotism, and admiration to our country and that things will be ok. We shall never forget that day and all who were lost, but we also shall never forget how America came together as one in support of each other.