September 11, 2001. I remember the day well. I was getting ready for work when I got a call from my sister, who worked for KLAS TV in Las Vegas at the time. She called to ask if I knew of anyone in the World Trade Center. I thought it to be an odd question at 6:30am on a Tuesday morning, especially since she worked the 10pm newscast. Why was she calling me? Why was she calling me at 6:30am? Shouldn’t she be asleep? Me? I was 2 minutes from walking out the door. Then she told me what was going on. The towers in Manhattan were on fire and we were just beginning to learn of the day’s event unfolding. I was also coming to realize this was going to affect a lot of other things, such simple things as a Major League Baseball game.
I remember everything about that day, as I am sure many others do as well. It is hard to believe it has been 10 years already. Every memory of not only that day but the days that followed is still vivid. Clearly such an emotional time for many. So many lives lost. It made everything else seem so unimportant.
By the way, I did not know of any co-worker in the towers. Our company had a small branch there, but everyone was accounted for. I did come to find out later that a former high school mate of mine was in the tower and unfortunately died amongst the thousands that never returned home.
So, 9-11 did affect baseball. In fact, games were canceled until the 17th. This was not unexpected after what had happened, however, it did affect the scheduling. Instead of just starting back up where the schedule left off, the Arizona Diamondbacks and the rest of baseball, just picked up the schedule where it was supposed to be on the 17th. The games missed from 9/11 to 9/16 would be played the week after the season was to end. So, the season was extended by one week.
You see, I was getting ready to get married. I was getting ready to get married at the Dbacks game against the Milwaukee Brewers on September 25th. Sure, it would have been disappointing if it was postponed or even canceled all together. However, given the circumstances, we certainly would have understood. In fact, we were bracing for either to happen. However, the game was still on, the wedding on the field before the game was still on.
That day September 25th was something else. Not only were we getting married at the Dbacks game, it was also the Dbacks first home game after the events of 9-11. They had been on the road the previous week after they got back to baseball. We had our ceremony on the field prior to the game. Dbacks closer Matt Mantei signed our marriage license as a witness. Not only was there a wedding, there was also a 9-11 tribute. There was actually an International Firefighters Convention in town at the same time and all the first responders in town for the event, were invited to the game for a pre-game tribute. They received a well-deserved standing ovation.
During the game, we went walking around to the people we had invited. We even had extended family come who we invited but we couldn’t afford tickets for, so we went looking for them. They were in the upper deck behind home plate. We were in full wedding garb. As we were walking back to our seats out in the right field bleachers, a group of firefighters from Pittsburgh stopped us and wanted to take pictures with us. Here are Pittsburgh firefighters who undoubtedly had an emotional couple of weeks and they wanted to be in pictures with us. They thought it was just so cool what we did. I couldn’t have been happier or prouder that such an event could take away the pain of 9-11 and smiles on their faces even for just one night. I will never forget that moment within a day, period of time filled with many moments.
So, of course the Dbacks went on to face the New York Yankees in the World Series and win the series. It was such a great series as we all know. It is the most memorable series in my lifetime and I’ve seen some good ones. It was memorable not only because it was my team in the series, but just for what everything baseball did to help start the healing process. To have the series in New York, against the Yankees. Just how cool was that? I’m not a Yankees fan and never will be, but I can’t imagine playing that series against anyone other than the New York Yankees.
Each game had more to the story than just what you saw in the box score and that’s what made it so special to the people of Arizona, New York, and the rest of the country, including the people of Washington D.C. As we take time to reflect the events of 10 years ago, take the time too to hug your family, continue to say prayers for those families directly affected by the tragedy, and thank God that we have such a special diversion from life this time of year called baseball.