ANNAPOLIS, Maryland – Jacob deGrom stood next to Gerrit Cole along the first base line, and Brandon Nimmo stepped between Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton on the other side.
Shoulder to shoulder and interspersed, players from the New York Mets and Yankees shared the diamond during the national anthem Saturday night at Citi Field with first responders, former players and a giant ribbon printed with the American flag.
“Like a unified New York,” said host Marysol Castro.
The city’s baseball teams held a Subway Series game on September 11 for the first time on the 20th anniversary of the September 11 attacks, as stadiums across the country paid tribute to the nearly 3,000 killed in the terrorist attacks. A raucous and emotional crowd filled the stadium in Flushing 45 minutes before the first pitch, waving American flags and holding signs promising “Never Forget” during a ceremony that included more than a dozen Mets players from the 2001 team and representatives. from various organizations and related charities. to first responders and victims.
The stadium vibrated in a way it has not done since before the coronavirus pandemic when Mike Piazza, John Franco and other Mets alumni accompanied members of the fire, police, EMT, sanitation, corrections and court officials from New York along the grounds warning trail.
The loudest applause came for Piazza, a Hall of Famer who memorably hit the lead homer in the eighth inning when the Mets defeated the Atlanta Braves on Sept. 21, 2001, in the team’s first game in Shea Stadium. The highlights of that game were played on the video board before Bobby Valentine and Joe Torre, the managers of the Mets and Yankees in 2001, respectively, threw the first ceremonial pitches.
“For me, especially when this date comes around every year, it’s hard to look back, and the images, for me and I’m sure a lot of people, are still very vivid in their minds,” Piazza said. “I think it is a wonderful thing that we do, continue to honor them.”
In a sign, perhaps, of how much healing has happened since then, fans in Queens booed loudly when Yankees star DJ LeMahieu was introduced for the game’s first at-bat.
Both teams wore hats representing New York’s first responders, two years after Mets slugger Pete Alonso said the league rejected his proposal for specially designed caps to do the same. Instead, Alonso had custom cleats made for each of his teammates, without asking MLB for permission, and then donated his shoes to the National 9/11 Memorial & Museum.
Alonso, who was 6 years old and living in Tampa, Florida, at the time of the attacks, has made multiple visits to the museum and was at Ground Zero on Saturday morning, part of the ongoing work he has done to benefit the survivors of 9/11. Plagued by health problems caused by exposure to debris.
“Today is a day of remembrance,” Alonso said. “Not only that day, but there are still people affected every day.”
The Navy and Air Force played soccer on the earliest date on the calendar for a rivalry dating back to 1960. When the two service academies announced late last year that the game would move from its regular venue in early October, no explanation was needed.
The Navy-Air Force took center stage to some degree as the American sports world observed the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. Players from both teams carried flags onto the field before the start of the match. There was a moment of silence before the national anthem and then a flyover with two Lockheed Martin F-35B Lightning and two Boeing F / A-18 Hornets.
During an America the Beautiful halftime signing, the Midshipmen displayed a large American flag, and the names of the Navy and Air Force graduates lost on September 11 were posted on the video board.
“It hits us really close,” Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo said. “We have some players on our team, I think all of us in this room know someone who was there, a family member or friend. So, I thought the best thing about this day was that we were all Americans. And just remembering the September 11 people. “
Elsewhere, Army players also carried flags onto the field for their home game against Western Kentucky. In Nebraska, former Navy SEAL Damian Jackson, a 29-year-old backup linebacker, led the Cornhuskers onto the field with a flag and flanked by first responders, including a health worker.
Nebraska Coach Scott Frost introduced the family of the fallen Marine Cpl. Daegan Page in a Cornhuskers jersey before the game. Page was one of 13 US servicemen killed on August 26 in a terrorist attack at the Kabul airport in Afghanistan. Page, 23, was from Omaha.
In Minnesota’s game against Miami from Ohio, the family of the late Tom Burnett Jr. was honored on the field after the first quarter. Burnett, a Minnesota native, was one of the passengers on Flight 93, which crashed in rural Pennsylvania on September 11.
In a ceremony before their game against Kennesaw State, Georgia Tech recognized Atlanta Police Officer and former New York City Paramedic Jay Pagan, who worked on the Twin Towers in search and rescue after the attacks and was caught between the rubble. Pagan was presented with the game ball at a Heroes Day ceremony before the game.
Boston College wore their red bandana uniforms against Massachusetts, and the names were replaced by “For Welles.” Since 2014, the Eagles have occasionally worn red bandana uniforms in memory of Welles Crowther, a former BC lacrosse player who died helping rescue people from the World Trade Center during the 2001 attack. Survivors identified Crowther by the red scarf. which he was known to wear at all times.
At the US Open in Queens, before the start of a women’s final between two unborn players on September 11, cadets from the US Military Academy unfurled a giant American flag that covered almost the entire court. at Arthur Ashe Stadium. . While 18-year-old British Emma Raducanu beat 19-year-old Canadian Leylah Fernandez, “9/11/01” was etched on the side of the court.
Subsequently, Fernández asked for the microphone to be returned to him during the post-match trophy to address the crowd of 23,703.
“I know this day was especially difficult for New York and for everyone in the United States. I just want to say that I hope I can be as strong and resilient as New York has been in the last 20 years, ”said Fernández, who was born in September 2002.“ Thank you for always supporting me, thank you for cheering me on for me. I love you New York and hope to see you next year. “
At Richmond Raceway in Virginia, a 1,100-pound piece of steel from the Twin Towers was on display midway, along with a Wall of Remembrance. The Cub Scouts led the Pledge of Allegiance before the afternoon’s NASCAR Xfinity race began with a double race title.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. was competing in the Xfinity race for his only race of the year before moving to the NBC booth for the Cup race later Saturday. Earnhardt won the first NASCAR Cup race when the series resumed after the week off on September 11.
Earnhardt, who had also lost his father in February of that year, held the American flag out of his car window during burn celebrations in an image associated with the sport and its 9/11 tributes.
“I feel a little connected to that date because of what happened in our sport when we got back to Dover and what was happening in my own life that year,” Earnhardt Jr. said Friday. “It was a very challenging year. I think it’s important that we continue to remember and honor all those affected by (9/11) all these years after. “
On September 11, 2001, IndyCar was already in Germany (as CART Series) preparing for its weekend race, and it was the only US-based series to compete that weekend. On Saturday at Portland International Raceway, teams were called to the grid for a 15-second moment of silence.
Trister reported from Annapolis, Maryland.