09/09/2002 12:58 pm ET
9/11 brought the return of Old Glory
By Jim Molony / MLB.com
Los Angeles outfielder Marquis Grissom has vivid memories of the day baseball returned following a six-day absence after the tragedy of Sept. 11. Among the many things Grissom recalls, one in particular stands out in his mind: The return of Old Glory was seen at the games.
"When we came back, (the American flag) was everywhere," Grissom recalled. "I guess it had never really gone away, but you noticed it more. People were waving it more, wearing it more."
Chicago slugger Sammy Sosa thrilled the nation by running onto Wrigley Field carrying a flag when the Cubs resumed play in an image that was seared into the minds of baseball fans from coast to coast. Other players carried small flags during pregame introductions or when the National Anthem was played.
The players were not just waving the flag. Every one in uniform -- player, coach or manager -- also was proudly wearing the flag. For the rest of last season a 3 1/4-inch wide by 2-inch deep flag could be seen on the back of each uniform jersey above the numbers. A 1 x 1 1/2 inch flag was also stitched on the left side of every cap. The MLB logo on the side of all the bases was replaced by a flag, and batting helmets were adorned with the symbol. Players throughout both leagues expressed overwhelming support of this gesture when it was implemented last season.
"I think it's a great idea," Houston outfielder Lance Berkman said. "Of itself, it's a small gesture, but I think it's great that we do that to honor the people (who died on Sept. 11) and that people remember."
"It's a way to show our support, and we need to show our support any way we can," Dodgers outfielder Shawn Green said.
On Sept. 11, 2001, Wal-Mart sold 116,000 American flags as people across the country spawned a yearning to display the flag. That yearning has not gone away -- on any given day, you see them fluttering from car antennas or flying proudly from the roofs of houses or poles in front of businesses.
Major League Baseball has been among the organizations active in promoting the flag, especially since the tragedy of Sept. 11.
Major League Baseball Properties has created a special commemorative design that will be displayed on the field, on outfield walls and on each base during games on Sept. 11. The design incorporates the Stars and Stripes MLB silhouetted batter logo in a circular crest featuring a red, white and blue ribbon, the date September 11, 2001, and the phrase "We Shall Not Forget."
The commemorative design will appear on the top of all three bases. The sides of each base will be adorned with the American flag and the Stars and Stripes MLB silhouetted batter logo. The commemorative design also will be used on special lineup cards designed for all games played on Sept. 11. A special ceremonial first pitch baseball, featuring the American flag and the date, will be incorporated into pregame ceremonies at each ballpark.
Small flags were given away to the fans at the first game of the Subway Series in New York City June 14. Several teams had flag promotions in conjunction with Fourth of July fireworks displays. The Houston Astros plan to give away 20,000 flag caps when the Astros host the Colorado Rockies on the anniversary of the Sept. 11 tragedy.
"The flags are an important," Grissom said. "And so is remembering what happened on Sept. 11."
Jim Molony is a writer for MLB.com based in Houston. He can be reached at MLBmolony@aol.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.