The emotions from Sept. 11, 2001 haven't gone away and remain strong for White Sox manager Robin Ventura when he thinks about the attacks on the World Trade Center.
Ventura was a third baseman for the New York Mets when that tragic event occurred and witnessed baseball play a role in healing not only a city but a nation.
“Playing for the Mets that time at Shea Stadium was a place where they put everything," Ventura said. "All the supplies coming into New York were staged at Shea Stadium so we got to see first hand the recovery effort of what we’re trying to do, what people were doing, firefighters coming in from all over the place. It’s sad. We knew some people that had been in there. Everyone knew somebody.”
Baseball didn’t resume across the country until six days later. The Mets were still on the road, facing the Pittsburgh Pirates but returned home on September 21st to play the first professional sporting event in New York City since the attacks. Thanks to a dramatic, late-inning Mike Piazza home run, Mets fans went home as winners that evening against the Atlanta Braves. One moment that Ventura will remember most about that game came in the pregame ceremonies when fallen firefighters and policemen were honored with the playing of bagpipes.
“Anytime they play bagpipes for firefighters, policemen anything like that, for somebody to hear that and realize for us every game back you’re always dealing with kids who lost a parent or somebody close to them,” Ventura said. “Anytime you hear that it affects people differently. But it’s hard anytime you hear it.”
The return to New York also made it clear for Ventura and the Mets that they would need to be leaders in helping a city heal and move on from such a devastating day.
“When you play the game in New York, you realize you do actually have to move on and do something. You can’t just stay stagnant and not do anything. It’s hard even as players for us to go out and play at that point because it was there. Everywhere you went you were dealing with people that lost somebody.”