Results tagged ‘ Bryan Rekar ’

9-11 and Baseball


 

As the years roll on, the terror and the feeling of uncertainty and remorse do not wane on this day. It was the awakening moment of this Nation to the horrors and the tragic events that unfold daily in other corners of the World. We had taken a direct terrorist attack upon our shores, and the Nation took a step back, then collectively joined their hearts and hands together to initiate a healing process that doesn’t seem completed even today.


Today millions of words of remembrance and prospective of this horrific event will fill the blogs and pages of newspapers and the Internet to again always remember this day, and the way this country rose from the dust and tangled mass of our beloved twin towers to again soar high as an eagle. For this 11th day of September used to be remembered for other Worldly events, but now it will be a day of mutual spirit and sadness as we remember those lost and other who searched and fought to bring a positive moment to this tragic event.

Everyone has their own stories and versions of the visual and audible sights and sounds of this day, including a few of the Tampa Bay (Devil) Rays players and coaches who were bunked up in their hotel outside of New York City awaiting that evenings game against the New York Yankees. They could see the towering smoke and the increased activity along the streets below, but many did not know the cause and effect of this day until most of their cell phones or hotel phones began to ring with the news from worried loved ones and friends.

Paul Hoover, now a catcher for the Philadelphia Phillies, will be in uniform during the pre-game ceremonies at Citi Field as the New York City citizens again remember the courage, and the pain of that faithful day. Back in 2001, Hoover was just two games into his 2001 stint with the then Devil Rays when September 11th changed the landscape of not only the World, but baseball. As he stands there by the dugout during the moment of silence followed by the singing of the National Anthem by a FDNY member, emotions and reactionary moments in his mind will instantly bring him back to the chaos and the extreme uncertainty of that day.


“When we came to New York, we didn’t even stay in the city,” Hoover told the Courier Post Online. “We stayed in Jersey cause they didn’t know what could happen with what was all going on. I didn’t feel scared, but you’re definitely on alert.”


 

The events of that day bonded the young Rays as players began to assemble to watch the events of the 9-11 tragedy unfold. They consoled each other as some of the players phoned friends and relative to hear what the reports were outside the city to the cause and effect of that days events. Rumors and innuendo were running rampant in their team hotel with unsubstantiated reports of additional attacks all over the country.


The series against the Yankees was suspended along with the rest of the Major League Baseball schedule as the Nation grieved and collected itself to begin the healing process and begin the enormous task of assessing and reporting the physical damage and begin the healing process for so many around the country. The Rays and the Yankees finally brought a bit of instant normalcy again to the city when they began their delayed series, and the New York populous could make a collective sigh and give thanks for the many who helped build their city again from the ashes of the twin towers.


“There was a lot of emotion,” Hoover said. “I just remember all of us playing, thanking all the policemen and firemen. We were on the line together. When we came down the tunnel, they were all there and then when we lined up it was fireman, policeman, player, fireman, policeman, player. You talked to them the whole time. Some of them were actually down there for 9/11. It was a neat experience, but an unfortunate experience.”


Hoover’s experience was just one of many that day that felt the full emotional tear and angst of seeing his country suffer and also begin rebuilding within the scope of baseball.
Two days after the tragic events of September 11, 2001, Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig, who had suspended the season to let the Nation gather and mourn, Selig announced:

I believe in the spirit of national recovery and a return to normalcy. Major League Baseball, as a social institution, can best be helpful by resuming play at the most appropriate time.”


That day was September 17th when the Rays and Yankees again be able to bring their talents together to help the New York rebuilding process by getting back to normal life in the city and bringing the fan together to focus and feel joy again in the aftermath of the 9-11 events. The Yankees showed support to the efforts of the NYPD and FDNY brave souls by wearing their collective symbols upon their caps for the rest of the season on their baseball caps.

 

Every MLB club emblazoned on the back of their jerseys an American flag upon the usually prevalent MLB logo to shoe mutual support and respect towards their New York and Washington brethren who had suffered. Yankee shortstop Derek Jeter visited a hospital and armory in New York to be with families awaiting word of missing persons.

When asked about the Yankees returning to play ball again in the sullen city Jeter said:

If anything, playing again will give people an option to watch something else on TV. This (tragedy) is closer to home because it’s New York.”


The seventh inning stretch became a patriotic moment as “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” was replaced by “God Bless America“. Red, white and blue bunting adorned all MLB ballparks and the American flag made an appearance with great gala in the stands during the completion of the 2001 season. Not only did New York remember and embrace the normalcy, but the rest of this Nation also showed respect, honor and moments of individual remembrance of this event.

 

Nine years later, the images and the sounds heard that day are still fresh in my mind. The hours of watching and digesting those horrific moments and hearing the eventual tumbling of the twin towers to the ground still send chills through me. It was a moment when this country felt insecure, fragile and subject to the World’s ills.

Bringing the grieving American fans into the 30 chapels of the Church of Baseball after the events of 9-11 only seemed right. I still have a D-Rays cap given to me by Rays pitcher Bryan Rekar that shows the symbols of NYPD and FDNY written onto its brow. No matter if you are a Mariner, Rays or even a Yankee, 9-11 will always be honored and remembered.

 
 
 
 
 

My September 11th Retrospect

 

 

                        

 

Every American has a different view and prospective on the horrific events of September 11th 2001.  Anyone over the age of 10 will always have a memory of those twin towers smoking up like chimneys and the sound of all those tons of steel and concrete finally falling to rest at the base of the towers. We can not ever change the fate of those who dies or who sacirficed themselves that day. We also can not forget about the pain and the confusion as we wonder aloud what the world was going to be on September 12th for us.

I just want to state for the record that I am proud  of the  way the entire country pulled together for the citizens of New York City. And I am still remorsing over the loss of those two great towers that beamed freedom and power to the world as a symbol of the Big Apple.

 

I remember I was working on a vending route that day for Pepsi and was just coming out of the Franklin Templeton building in Carillion Parkway when the sky fell silient. I was within a 8 miles of Tampa airport, and about 5 miles from the small St. Petersburg/Clearwater airport. As I got into my truck, I was unaware of the first tower being hit by an American Airlines plane out of Boston for LA.

 I pulled into the parking ot of a financial services company down the road and the receptionst ans ths taff were all huddled over the television watching the events when I got into the building.  My pager then went nuts with 5 straight pagers from my company telling all trucks to finish their current stop and proceed back to the warehouse immediately. It seems that a company executive decided that we needed to be off the road in case of a similar episode here in the Tampa Bay area.

Considering we had MacDill Air Force Base near the city, it was decided that if they were targeting military and high profile locations, Central Command might be a target.  So I proceeded by to the warehouse and sat with most of the plant’s employees wathcing the horrific events. 

I could only think about how as a 10-year old, my uncle George took me on top of the north tower while it was being bult and showed me the sight of New York form a new prospective. How proud my uncle was of designing the express elevator system in the towers, and coming to work in such a great viewing enviorment every day. I got on my cellphone and tried to call him, but it seemed that most of the cicuits into New York at that time were being overwhelmed by family and friends checking to see if loved ones and friend were okay.

 

During that low point in American history, the Tampa Bay Rays were in a hotel in Manhattan preparing for a game against the New York Yankees. Of course with the danger surrounding New york at that time, the game was cancelled and players and Rays staff were advised to stay in the hotel as a security measure.  When the Rays finally did get to play New York, it was the first day that baseball again got to be played in this great city.

                             

 

It was a game surrounded by emotional episodes and truly patriotic gestures by fans and players. As a measure of rememberance, all the players uniforms had a American flag patch over the MLB label in the rear of the uniform. The players caps also had a stitched flag on the left side of the cap, closest to the heart.

 

                                     

 

It was a game not played for competition that day. Both teams were a bit numb, and it showed on the field. It was a game of healing for the fans and citizens of this great town. It was a show of trying to get back to normal, or try and figure out what normal was anymore. It was a contest that the score did not matter, and the  score was bot remembered by the fans. It was their time to grieve, celebrate, and also ponder what to do now.

And the Rays considered it an honor that they could help this process for the city. Everyone knows the outpouring of the entire country for the citizens of New York  City . But with the action of the Rays and Yankees playing a simple ballgame, it brought about a sense of getting back to life, and a place to remember and rejoice.

 

So on this day, 7 years ago, many  NYC firefighters, Port Authority and NY police men perished in this disaster. I still have acap from Brian Rekar that in the brow has his number 35, and the  “FDNY”, and “NYPD” in it in sharpie. He gave me the cap aftere the last game in 2001 at Tropicana Field, and I have had it in a case ever since that day.

 

                                 

 

It was a day that we will not forget, or can forget.  But isn’t it a real joy to know that baseball helped the healing process in that time of grief and suffering.  And for that reason, I am glad we did not play today in New York. The city has healed, the site has been excavated and is undergoing change, but the memory and the emotional pull of Ground Zero will always grow heavy on this nations heart.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 279 other followers