It’s been 15 years since the tragic events that occurred on Sept. 11, 2001 in New York City.
For manager Robin Ventura, it’s still hard to think about.
“I think every time I start thinking about it it’s tough,” Ventura said. “Bagpipes are a whole different deal. You get emotional every time you hear them because that’s pretty much all we heard through September through the end of the year and that’s really the thought that comes up thinking about the first game back in New York. When the bagpipes came through center field, it was a tough moment for everybody.”
Ventura, who was with the New York Mets at the time, was in Pittsburgh during the events. The Mets were scheduled to open a three-game series against the Pirates.
Ventura recalls waking up for a Players Association meeting that morning.
“I remember getting up and having some coffee and then you just see what’s unfolding on TV and you can’t believe it,” Ventura said. “You just can’t believe what your eyes are seeing. The next day we had a bus back and we got to Shea. Shea was used as a staging area for all the supplies going in to Manhattan. It was right there in front of us. It was amazing just the cooperation and the teamwork of everybody and all the firefighters coming from all over to help out. Just incredible. It still just gets to you, it really does.”
Baseball was put on hold for the next few days.
Play resumed six days later, where the Mets completed their three-game series with the Pirates in Pittsburgh and then traveled back home.
The Mets held the first sporting event in New York since the attacks on Sept. 21 at Shea Stadium against the Atlanta Braves.
"It was tough because even when we were working out, before we went to Pittsburgh to start playing again, you just have firefighters…they had cots and things where guys are sleeping on shifts," Ventura said. "For us working out, these guys started going out and doing stuff on the field…taking batting practice taking ground balls. It wasn’t really about us anymore working out again, it was just whatever these guys wanted to do you let him do. Bobby Valentine did a great job of just organizing guys to pack boxes and do whatever you could."
When the White Sox returned to action, they hosted the New York Yankees at Comiskey Park.
After an emotional week, sports helped bring a little bit of normalcy back to the country.
“When we played our game at Shea, you didn’t know if you should smile, crack a joke or do any of that. And it was still tough to do that,” Ventura said. “There’s a lot of families that were there that had lost somebody. Kids had lost their dads. You didn’t necessarily know what to do.
“I think at that time at least sports let people cheer and distract them somewhat from the pain that was going on at the time. Nobody really knew how powerful that would be. I know everyone’s probably seen the home run (Mike) Piazza hit. It’s hard to just say how important that was but it really was. It was just kind of the defining moment of people could cheer people could hug each other and laugh and root for their team again.”