Jack Buck (Hall of Fame Cardinals announcer) said this about baseball returning after 9/11: “I don’t know about you, but for me, the question has already been answered,” he said. “Should we be here? Yes!”
He was right. Baseball needed to come back for the fans and players. A distraction from the tragic events. A new hope.
The date was September 17th, 2001. The Mets were on the road playing the Pittsburgh Pirates. An emotional pregame ceremony was on display where the Pirates and Mets honored the fallen hero’s nearly 6 days after the tragic event. It was the first sporting event to be played after 9/11.
Mets pitcher Al Leiter threw seven innings, allowing one earned run and striking out three in the Mets’ first game back since 9/11. The Mets won that game 4-1.
Shea Stadium was the first NY stadium to host a sporting event after 9/11. The Mets were down 2-1 in the bottom of the eighth inning when Mike Piazza hit his iconic go ahead home run to give the Mets a 3-2 lead. The emotion from the crowd and players was truly on display that game. It was really more than just a game. Baseball returning in 2001 was a distraction from the evil in this world. Mike Piazza hit the home run that made New York cheer again.
Rose: “And it’s hit deep to left center … Andruw Jones on the run … THIS one has a CHANCE … HOME RUN! Mike Piazza! And the Mets lead 3-2!” I still choke up watching that call.
“It was just this incredible release of emotion,” Piazza told MLB Network earlier this year. “And I think, you know, it became evidently clear that people just wanted to cheer about something.”