09/09/2002 1:38 pm ET
Baseball plans tributes for 9/11
By Joe Frisaro / MLB.com
Team plans for Sept. 11 ceremonies
Some of baseball's greatest names will be joined by several thousand real American heroes in Yankee Stadium's legendary Monument Park Wednesday night as Major League Baseball pauses to honor the victims and survivors of Sept. 11.
Established along a section of outfield in 1932, Monument Park recognizes such immortals as Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle and Miller Huggins.
A sixth monument will grace the grounds Wednesday, as the Yankees unveil a memorial remembering those who perished in the terrorist attacks on America.
To mark the one-year anniversary of the attacks, special tributes are slated in all 15 cities where MLB games are being played.
"All of us in baseball were devastated by the horrific attack on our country last Sept. 11, and it is with a great deal of sadness and grief that we will mark the first anniversary," baseball commissioner Bud Selig said. "We take this opportunity to honor the memories of those lost and to pay tribute to the firefighters, police officers, rescue workers and all those who sacrificed their lives trying to save others."
Firefighters and law enforcement workers have been invited to stadiums across the country to participate in pregame ceremonies. There will be military flyovers, and unfurling of giant American flags as a nation once again unites as one voice.
Each night game will pause at exactly 9:11 p.m. (local time) for a moment of silence, which will be followed by a special video presentation honoring those lost in the attacks.
Another moment of silence and video presentation will be observed at the seventh-inning stretch, as will the singing of "God Bless America."
Each fan attending a big-league game that day will receive a commemorative T-shirt. The design was created by Major League Baseball Properties and features the Stars and Stripes MLB silhouetted batter logo in a circular crest featuring a red, white and blue ribbon. Inscribed are the date "September 11, 2001" and the phrase "We Shall Not Forget."
"This act of terror took more than 2,800 lives: New Yorkers; Americans; and innocent people from countries throughout the world," New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said in a statement released to MLB.com. "And without the courage and sacrifice of our firefighters, police officers and emergency workers, who bravely gave their lives in the largest and most successful rescue operation in history, the toll would have been even greater.
"None of us who lived through that day will ever forget our shock, outrage and the aching loss of so many of our friends and loved ones. We were also left with the painful realization that we were now living on the front lines of a war, and that our very way of life was under assault."
As a display of unity, fans are encouraged to wear their complimentary T-shirts during the game.
All three infield bases will sport the design, with the sides of the bases displaying the American flag and the Stars and Stripes MLB silhouetted batter logo.
Small American flags have also been stitched on player uniforms.
In the shadow of Ground Zero, Yankee Stadium promises to be emotionally filled. Along with the monument presentation, there will be a flyover by four United States Navy F-18 Hornets, which recently returned from combat operations in Afghanistan.
After last year's attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, Major League Baseball postponed games until Sept. 17.
Retrieved from the rubble of the WTC last year was a tattered American flag, found missing 12 stars and covered in ash. The flag is believed to have come from one of the upper floors of the Twin Towers, and it was flown at Yankee Stadium during Game 3 of the 2001 World Series.
Serving as a reminder of perseverance and hope, the same flag will be displayed Wednesday in the pregame ceremony.
An outpouring of patriotism has occurred in stadiums since the attacks, prompting players and fans to wear NYPD and FDNY caps, and adding "God Bless America" to the standard baseball hymn "Take Me Out To The Ballgame."
"Baseball has always been an integral part of the America imagination and its identity," said New York Gov. George Pataki in a statement to MLB.com. "There's something special about the game that recalls family and heritage. Baseball's return helped bring a sense of normalcy to the country, providing a needed break from the images of destruction and sadness. It helped calm the nerves of the nation. You could turn on the television and watch your favorite team on the diamond instead of watching
the constant images of terror.
"Not all things were normal, however. When I saw the huge banner in Chicago that read "Chicago Loves NY" I knew times were different, but the unity was special and I think it's one of the good things that came from September 11th. How we rallied together as a nation, and baseball was certainly one of the major rallying points."
Similar ceremonies will be conducted across the league.
The Astros' tribute features 343 members of the Houston Fire Department escorting a large American flag onto the field. The 343 represents the number of firefighters killed in last year's attacks.
In Cincinnati, 14-year-old Andy Moskal will throw out the ceremonial first pitch. His father, William Moskal, vice president of Marsh USA Inc., died in the World Trade Center.
The tributes actually began Sept. 4 in San Francisco, when the Giants unveiled a memorial to the victims in Willie Mays Plaza. The victims' names are inscribed on banners hanging from palm trees in the Plaza.
"We hope that the memorial in Willie Mays Plaza will be a place that not only Giants fans, but all members of our community, can come throughout the week to reflect upon the events of Sept. 11 as well as the days and months that have followed," Giants executive vice president and chief operating officer Larry Baer said.
A year later, Mayor Bloomberg notes the nation has pulled closer together.
"Even in the aftermath of September 11th, we have not allowed terrorism to destroy our freedoms," Bloomberg said. "Anyone who has visited [New York City] has sensed our indomitable spirit of determination and the refusal to let fear rule our lives. There is no better evidence that the terrorists have not -- and will never -- win.
"One year later, we are more united than ever, and more committed to defending the liberty that sustains our city, our nation, and freedom-loving people throughout the world. We will never forget those we lost. We will rebuild a city that is worthy of their memory. And we will ensure that New York City continues to be a beacon of freedom and opportunity for people all over the world."
Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.