NEW YORK – Todd Zeile thought back 20 years, to the night baseball returned in New York following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
“We put a small Band-Aid on a big wound for a couple of hours,” the retired Mets infielder said Friday. “To put the smiles on the faces of the people who were hurting and just make them relax for a couple hours and watch the national pastime come back, play ball, that made me feel that it was the right time to do it.”
The Mets will mark the 20th anniversary of the attacks before Saturday night’s Subway Series game against the Yankees They will wear caps from the New York City Police Department, Fire Department of the City of New York, Port Authority Police Department and New York City Department of Correction to honor first responders. The Mets wil have “New York” rather than “Mets” on their jerseys, and American flags and "9-11-01’' will be on the right sleeves.
Bobby Valentine, manager of the 2001 Mets, will throw a ceremonial first pitch to Joe Torre, manager of the 2001 Yankees. The Mets have at least 14 former players and coaches planning to attend, including Hall of Famer Mike Piazza. whose two-run, eighth-inning homer off native New Yorker Steve Karsay led the Mets over Atlanta 3-2 in the emotional first game back that Sept. 21.
“We all had fear. We had fears in our hearts that one, maybe we’d be attacked, and two, maybe we were doing the wrong thing,” Valentine said, “There was so much uncertainty and doubt.”
Saturday’s ceremony will include the New York Police and Fire Widows' & Children Benefit Fund, a group created by late Mets star Rusty Staub, The Feel Good Foundation that assists people afflicted by 9/11-related illnesses, and Mets employees who lost loved ones and people who worked at Shea Stadium during the relief effort. Police and fire department honor guards will participate.
The New York police and children’s chorus will sing “The Star-Spangled Banner,” Jazz artist Anaïs Reno will sing “America the Beautiful” and New York firefighter Regina Wilson “God Bless America.”
In Pittsburgh, families of Flight 93 passengers will be recognized on the field along with military and first responders before the Pirates host the Washington Nationals.
Toronto will wear caps recognizing the U.S. and Canada, and all other on-field personnel, including umpires, will have a silhouetted ribbon with "We Shall Not Forget,” which also will be used on lineup cards, bases and throughout ballparks. MLB's royalties from licensed sale of the caps will be donated to the National September 11 Memorial & Museum.
Major League Soccer’s New York Red Bulls, home against D.C. United, are hosting a day of remembrance as part of 11 days of service. Both teams will wear remembrance patches, there will be a moment of silence and match-worn memorabilia will be auctioned to benefit Answer the Call, which provides financial assistance to the families of police and firefighters killed while on duty.