Rightfully so, the most memorable baseball moment after 9/11 was Hall of Famer Mike Piazza’s game-winning home run in the New York Mets first game after the national tragedy. Less than two months after the Twin Towers were struck, Randy Johnson and the Arizona Diamondbacks captivated America by defeating the New York Yankees in one of the greatest World Series of all-time.
As the country recovered, baseball helped to offer an escape, if only for a few hours.
In one of America’s most historic cities, the Philadelphia Phillies welcomed the Atlanta Braves to Veterans Stadium in their first game since 9/11 on Sept. 17, 2001. Less than a year before his induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame, Kalas delivered a stirring opening as the Phillies returned:
“From the cradle of liberty – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Do we have closure? No. No, the heinous acts of terrorism last Tuesday will be with us for as long as we all shall live. We have earned a greater respect and love for the men and women of our fire departments, our police departments, our emergency rescue squads…they’re all Americans, we are proud to be Americans. We must never resort to the thinking that created Tuesday’s acts of terrorism…they were born of hatred – we as individuals, we as a nation must never hate. More than ever before, we must stand together and live by his words – love one another. Here at Veterans Stadium, we see various displays of nationalism and patriotism. And let us always remember, that above all else, love one another, love thy brother.
Yes, baseball will go on. It won’t be the same – it will be a long time before it is the same. But sports has always been a diversion from our everyday problems, and in this case, from a national tragedy. Our thoughts and prayers and our hearts go out to the families and to the friends of the victims of the tragedy of Sept. 11, 2001.
The Color Guard is now coming out on the field. We see waves of people here at Veterans Stadium, standing united, regardless of race, color or religion. They’re all together as members of the United States of America.
We’re proud to be Americans – baseball is our national pastime. We’re proud to be small pieces of our national pastime, and we want to see it continue.
You can hear in the background, chants of ‘U-S-A!’. Yes, Americans will now perhaps become more united than ever before, and probably now we won’t need it more than any time that I can ever recall.”