9/11 will forever be a day full of reflection and remembrance. We will never forget the heroes who so bravely risked their lives against unknown treachery and danger to save others. Each year, we must take the time to remember, honor, and mourn all those affected by this tragedy, but also pray for those still affected by the catastrophic event.
Through sport, men and women of all backgrounds, religions, ethnicities, etc. are brought together. We find strength in numbers and support each other through the thick and thin. At a time where New York and the rest of the nation could use something to cheer about, something little to help divert from their losses and sorrow, it was a time to show the rest of the world resiliency and what our nation is about. September 21, 2001 at Shea Stadium was symbolic of that.
17 years ago today, Mike Piazza hit a go-ahead, two run home run in the 8th inning to propel the Mets to a 3-2 victory in the first professional sporting event in New York after the terrorist attacks. The team, the city, and the country needed it and Piazza delivered. He gave New York a moment to exhale. Jack Curry of the New York Times wrote, “For a minute, an hour or maybe 24 hours, there was something different to focus on…it gave a moment to forget their troubles for a few hours.”
The New York Mets have always been active in supporting the community during this time of year by honoring the military and first responders who put their lives on the line to keep our country safe. As part of an annual tradition the Mets started in 2002, the team pays visits to numerous firehouses. Each year, they make sure to visit a specific Queens firehouse, FDNY Engine 289/Ladder 138, who lost four of its members on the day. Every player takes the time to meet each member of the department, sharing their gratitude and thanking them for what they do every day while they are on the field.
This year, the game and night couldn’t have ended more perfectly. Mets slugger and potential Rookie of the Year candidate, Pete Alonso, surprised the entire team with custom designed first responder cleats. After spending weeks going around the room and writing down shoe sizes and preferred brands of each player, he spent his own money to purchase the team cleats to honor the fallen first responders and their families on the 18th anniversary of the attacks.
Describing the cleats, Anthony DiComo of SNY writes, “On Pete Alonso’s right cleat was an image of first responders raising an American flag amidst the rubble at Ground Zero. Around it were the red and white stripes of the flag, plus the names of New York City service agencies on site on Sept. 11, 2001 — the NYPD, the FDNY and so many others. On Alonso’s left cleat was a silhouette of the New York City skyline as it looked on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, with the World Trade Center standing proud. That shoe was blue with white stars, and the inscription read: “September 11, 2001.”
As a rookie, Pete continues to prove that he not only is a great baseball player, but is a leader and honorable man outside of the game. After the game Pete quoted, “I wanted to show support not just to the victims, but to the families as well…to show recognition to all the people that are heroes. This is for all those people that lost their lives and all of those people who did so much to help…I don’t just want to be known as a good baseball player, I want to be known as a good person too.”
The Mets pulled out a dominant victory beating the Arizona Diamondbacks 9-0. Better yet, there was a destiny in the win. On a commemorative night, the Mets offense scored 9 runs on 11 hits…yes, 9 and 11. In the words of Pete Alonso, “Tonight couldn’t have ended more perfectly. There were angels with us tonight.”