By Seth Everett
Sunday marked the 10th anniversary of a day that changed the world forever. There are so many reports about how the sports world handled the occasion, yet I don’t think there is enough talk about how important Philadelphia was for baseball to begin the healing process 10 years ago.
I considered myself very lucky on that fateful day. That’s a hard statement to say considering I lost a high school classmate, my producer at the time lost his next door neighbor, and I heard of countless victims that I had ties to. I’m lucky because my father was across the street from the World Trade Center. My sister was walking toward it and saw up close the second plane hit the tower.
I was working for Major League Baseball that season. When the attacks came, MLB was quick to shut down. All the bridges and tunnels were closed, so leaving my Brooklyn, N.Y. apartment was a fruitless effort. I did laundry, because I couldn’t sit still. I climbed to the roof of my building and could see the smoke as the buildings fell.
When a week passed, MLB started up again. The Mets were scheduled to host the Pirates, but Shea Stadium was being used as a triage center so the series got moved to Pittsburgh. The Yankees were on the road. The schedule showed that the very first MLB game in a post-9/11 world was to take place on a Monday night. The Phillies hosted Atlanta at Veterans Stadium.
The ballpark was quiet, even during batting practice. No one wanted to ask you to talk about your story, because you didn’t want to force your co-workers and friends to relive the horror.
I was sitting in the Atlanta dugout, and speaking with Braves Manager Bobby Cox, and Charley Steiner, the Dodgers announcer who was then with ESPN. Someone actually brought up a crazy question. The Diamondbacks were getting to use Curt Schilling and Randy Johnson for an extra start because of the six-day break. As unimportant as that question might have been, it cut the tension like a knife. It was the first time baseball was being discussed, and it felt cathartic.That night, the crowd at the Vet was outstanding. At each inning, the place got louder. The Braves & Phillies were the first in a long list of people doing things that make America the country that it is.
Later on that month, I was at Shea Stadium when Mike Piazza’s home run sent New Yorkers into an emotional tizzy. I was at the 2001 World Series where former President Bush threw out the 1st pitch (something that is part of baseball lore in how Derek Jeter put pressure on him not to get booed).
All in all, the stories of 9/11 are mostly about New York, Washington, and of course the plane that went down in Shanksville. Baseball is a part of that fabric, and in my mind, it always began in Philadelphia.
I’ll be on KYW Newsradio 1060 at 3:45 p.m. to preview the Astros series. On Talkradio 1210am WPHT after all the Phillies games, I’ll be hosting “Extra Innings” during the Houston series, and I’ll be doing “Inside Pitch/Extra Innings” all day Thursday during the double-header vs. Florida.
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