On 9/11, a remembrance of 10/30

But truth be told, everything starts to get hazy after that. I don’t remember President Bush’s address to the nation that night, or any of his speeches to Congress. I remember him giving a moving address at the National Cathedral, but I couldn’t tell you what he said. Many hundreds of miles away, life began to go on as usual the next afternoon. There was school to go to and football practice after that. Homework assignments to do and tests to study for. I vaguely remember a very surreal feeling hanging over everything for at least another couple of weeks, and the half-masted flags serving as a constant reminder that life wasn’t quite the same, but life was nominally going on as usual in Southwestern Ohio.

But I remember October 30th.

On October 30th, the World Series made its way to Yankee Stadium. The three-time defending champions were down 2-0 in the series, having been dominated by the Diamondbacks in Arizona. At times, it didn’t look like the Yankees even had a chance. And yet, for a brief moment, none of that mattered, even to the most die-hard of fans. Because the first World Series after the attack was coming to Ground Zero, and to Yankee Stadium, exactly as it should have. And then, before baseball could officially get underway, the President of the United States came to throw out the first pitch.

There will be a lot of paeans to “national unity” written today, and tomorrow, and all through the week, as pundits urge us to “remember how we felt” after 9/11. I don’t really have a lot to add to that, if only because I don’t think we’ve ever not been united. We might disagree, but what’s so wrong with that?But you don’t need to look any farther than that moment on October 30th to see what national unity looks like.

You almost couldn’t script the moment any better. As the President approached the mound, he was greeted by a full crowd in the house built by America’s most famous athlete. He walked across the same ground Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle, icons of American pop culture, walked across. And then the American head of state took the mound in our national pastime’s most hallowed cathedral on behalf of all of us.

And he threw a strike.

The rest of that World Series is still a blur an, in retrospect, it’s hard to remember it was in the same Series as that first pitch. Perhaps that’s because those five games made up the most unbelievable stretch of World Series baseball. Maybe it’s because Mystique and Aura did their best to make sure those three games in Yankee Stadium stood out for what happened during the games themselves. Maybe its because Game 7 was in Arizona, not New York. Maybe it’s because of that damned blooper. Or maybe this is when things started to return to what passed for normal at that time, with classic October baseball at Yankee Stadium and an unforgettable end to an unforgettable World Series. I’ve forgotten a lot of things, but I’ll never forget those five games.

And I’ll never forget that strike.

4 thoughts on “On 9/11, a remembrance of 10/30

  1. David

    Not only that Brien (as I was at that game too), but one of the lingering things that still remains with me — and in a completely unironic way — was who got the largest cheers that night after the President left the mound: the snipers. No joke, don't know if you recall, but after around the 6th inning (once the President had left) they started climbing down from the lighting areas and got a standing ovation from the crowd as they were climbing down once the folks around them realized they were coming down.

  2. chris

    I was in New York the day before visiting friends and was debating staying an extra day with them to go to the WTC. I ended up deciding not to and spent the 11th in an airport in Florida. I remember being at the airport and so mad at people because they were more mad about having their flight cancelled. But the events after i dont really remember as much as the initial moments. But there are 3moments that do stand out from the after events. The first is the presidents address to the nation, not what was said but tthe confidence it was said with. The strike he threw, Then the 7th inning stretch when the fire fighter sung God bless america. Not gonna lie to ya, had to take a "man walk" got a little choked up hearing/seeing that.

  3. Former O's Fan

    The first pitch might be the most memorable pitch I've ever seen. The President took the pitch from the mound and threw a strike. It was really a special moment… and difficult to explain to non-baseball fans.

  4. Chris U.

    My first reaction on seeing that pitch nearly 10 years ago was "Man, he really hummed it in there- with nice movement, too." I've since watched it on you tube and it was not as nasty as I had thought at the time, but awesome for a first pitch nonetheless. Definitely one of the best first pitches ever. That Series was amazing (except for games 1 and 6, of which I remember next to nothing), and for me it was the first Series where the result was of secondary importance. Sure, I was upset the Yankees lost (especially in the manner in which the last of the ninth of game 7 played out), but the bitterness didn't linger long as my new-found perspective on sports as entertainment rather than life-and-death allowed me to relish one of the more entertaining Series ever.

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