I was on the NJ Turnpike five years ago today when the planes hit. Moving to NY from Maryland. What normally was a four hour trip took nearly 12 because the bridges and tunnels were shut down. I kept driving north until I could turn around and backtrack without a bridge. Our movers were NY firefighters moonlighting. They left their truck at a rest stop to try and get into the city. It would be days before the truck arrived. The only thing I really missed was not having a television to watch the coverage.
I was covering the Yankees then. I remember the workout at the Stadium when the team took a knee behind the mound after a workout. When play resumed, the Mets were the first team at home, and in the press box in Chicago we watched Mike Piazza’s homer. It was chilling. Also chilling to see the Braves and Mets gather together after the game on the field.
I wasn’t nervous at all about flying to Chicago. The Yankees were cheered that night. (Booed the next though). One sign read: “I hate the Yankees, but I love New York.” It was very non-descript game, no life to the crowd until one of the White Sox was tossed for arguing. From a baseball perspective, that seemed to flip a switch and woke everybody up.
Both teams were extraordinary in the healing process. What the Mets and Bobby Valentine did at Shea helping the workers went beyond public relations. It was all heart. Both teams visited firehouses and shelters and I remember Bernie Williams telling one lady, “You need a hug.”
Those three games at the Stadium in the World Series were pure theater. The Yankees, you knew, were destined to win at home. That they lost seemed almost fitting. Why? It’s hard to say. Maybe it would have been too Hollywood had they won.
If you have any recollections about that day, or the Piazza homer, or anything else, please share them here.