11: Wednesday, September 10 vs Nationals
Ladies and gentlemen, tonight our Countdown Like it Oughta Be takes us back to an event in the history of our nation and our city that was undeniably tragic. But it also reminds us of how we as a people can unite and lift ourselves up from rubble when brutality confronts us.
It was seven years ago tomorrow morning that the skyline of New York was irreparably ruptured and the United States' sense of its security was forever challenged. The acts undertaken by despicable human beings on the morning of September 11, 2001 will never be forgotten by any soul who witnessed them or by anyone unfortunate enough to be touched, closely or remotely, by them.
But out of tragedy, there was uplift. And it began at, of all places, Shea Stadium.
In the days that followed the attacks of September 11, a baseball facility was converted into a vital staging area for humanitarian response. Those who sped to New York to help in the immediate and necessary municipal recovery operations were directed here.
They gathered supplies here.
They loaded trucks here.
They helped in any way they could here.
They rested here and then they went back to work here.
Many were called. Many more came. They were joined, as no more than concerned citizens, by members of the New York Mets, on- and off-field personnel alike, all of whom put in their own long hours to help their neighbors. Everybody gave of themselves and none sought fanfare for doing so. In the wake of those sad September days, as George Vecsey so eloquently put it in the New York Times, Shea Stadium was “sanctified”.
And that was before a single pitch had been thrown in competition in New York City after September 11. It is now the stuff of legend to recall that the first major sporting event New York saw, ten days after those dastardly attacks, was a game here at Shea, the Mets defeating the Braves 3-2, the crowd roaring not just at the result but at the fact that a game was being played at all.
Shea Stadium was where the road to normality in this city commenced on September 21, 2001. We won't forget the horror that came directly before it nor the immediate response of New Yorkers, Americans and good people everywhere to it. We will long remember the game as well; the players who played it under trying circumstances; the famous and the unknown who lent their labors to make the night extraordinary; and the thousands to whom we rightly referred then and refer now as heroes.
Any number of men and women connected to the recovery efforts that followed September 11 have a place with us on the sanctified grounds of Shea Stadium for this occasion tonight. It is to slight no individual or group that we have asked only a single person to walk out to right field and represent those collective contributions on behalf of all of them. No one in baseball and few in any endeavor were more committed to aiding his fellow New Yorker in the weeks, months and years that unfurled in the wake of this city's worst day.
Ladies and gentlemen, returning from Japan to remove number 11, please welcome home the manager of the 2000 National League Champion New York Mets, Bobby Valentine.
Number 12 was revealed here.