The Weeks After 9/11 and Baseball
On the morning of 9/11, I was on my way to my office in Manhattan. I saw the burning towers from my train and never made it to work. I was lucky, of course. So many others that took the train from my station into the city that morning never made it back home. Ever. I eventually did.
Baseball games were suspended league-wide in the days that followed 9/11. And when the games finally resumed, baseball in September and October never felt so right. And it helped so many kids cope. And parents, too.
My son was ten years old on 9/11. One night, just a few days after that most awful of days, he was understandably anxious about my going to work in Manhattan. I sat next to his bed, and really didn’t know what to say. The truth was, I was frightened to go to work. But I couldn’t exactly tell him that. I hated to leave him to travel into the City.
And then I looked across the room. There they were—Derek Jeter, Andy Pettitte, Jorge Posada, Mariano Rivera, their faces on a poster hanging in his room. They were New York.
“Hey, look,” I said, pointing to the poster. “Jeter and those guys, they’re not afraid. They’re still going to Yankee Stadium to practice and to play. And Jeter lives in the City, he loves it. It’s okay.”
Baseball isn’t only a physical game. Not really. Baseball fans don’t go to the ballpark just to watch a sport being played. When they sit in the bleachers or in the grandstand or behind home plate, they’re connecting—to memories of their first ballgame with dad (or mom) or grandpa (or grandma) and to other fans cheering for their favorite team in that ballpark and at home watching on TV. And they connect the next morning while waiting in line for a cup of coffee or in the office—they celebrate after a win the night before and they commiserate after a loss.
The game is tied to the past, it is a respite from the present and, just as we can be sure that the sun will rise, we know that a fastball will also rise over the plate for a home run hit and a future filled with hope.
Until the next curveball is thrown our away. But that’s okay, baseball will always have our backs.