ST. PETERSBURG -- Josh Paul recalled the morning of Sept. 11, 2001. The Rays catcher wore a White Sox uniform in those days, and the team had arrived in New York City at 4 a.m. in advance of a series with the Yankees.

Paul's wife met him in New York at the team hotel, the Grand Hyatt in Midtown Manhattan.

"She wanted to go downtown and get purses in the morning," said Paul, recalling how tired he was. "And I was like, 'We'll do that tomorrow.'"

Paul would have slept in, except teammate Sandy Alomar Jr. stopped by to wake him up.

"He said to turn on the TV, and we watched the whole thing unfold," Paul said.

Along with the rest of the world, they observed in horror as the events of 9/11 took place, changing the face of New York and the United States forever.

Paul remembered the odd feeling in the streets afterward.

"Well, I've never seen New York without cabs," Paul said. "There were no cars on the street. There was nothing on the street. Nothing was open.

About halfway through the day, we started seeing the business people walking up from downtown. They were just covered with dust. Just kind of walking their way home, I'm guessing [to the] Upper East Side; pretty incredible.

"The only thing that was open, really, was the delis, things like that."

Paul also observed panic.

"It was 100 percent panic," Paul said. "There were bomb threats in Grand Central Station, so we were evacuating the hotel. Then they're trying to get us back in the hotel, and it's right next to the Chrysler Building and that was supposed to be the next one to get hit. It was just full-blown panic everywhere. Nobody knew what was going on."

The horror for Paul grew worse wondering about his friend and former teammate at Vanderbilt University, Mark Hindy, who had begun a successful career at the brokerage firm of Cantor Fitzgerald, whose offices were at the top of Tower 1 of the World Trade Center.

Paul and Hindy were close. Whenever Paul went to New York, he looked forward to getting together with his friend, and this trip was to be no different, as Hindy was supposed to attend the White Sox-Yankees game the following night.

"He was a relief pitcher, left-hander, pretty good pitcher, everybody was [close with him]," Paul said. "You couldn't help it. One of the nicest, funniest people I've ever met. He had a very infectious laugh. If he was laughing somewhere, everybody knew about it."

Paul and other friends of Hindy's were not optimistic about his chance of survival.

"You knew it was going to be bad from the get-go," Paul said. "You're just hoping it would work out. ...

"Obviously, we all called his cell phone a thousand times. Cell phone service was down because the Towers were the main cell phone hub of New York, and the area, I think. So nobody's cell phone worked."

Paul's fears that the worst had happened to his friend were confirmed a week later.

"One of his friends at home, he called me back, and basically what he told me was they had been to every hospital in New York that was remotely close and they couldn't find him," Paul said.

Five years have passed since 9/11 and the death of his friend. Paul shakes his head when asked to put in perspective the events of Sept. 11.

"It's just something that happened, something terrible that happened," Paul said. "The sad thing is the people who perpetuated it still haven't been caught, and that's disappointing to me. ... [The] people who put it together have never been caught. That bugs me a lot. It was horrible. Basically, it shocked us all. ...

"I guess you don't ask why, because we know why. They took a shot at us."

The loss of his friend rocked Paul, but he smiles at the memories of Hindy.

"As far as Mark goes, [there are] just awesome memories," Hindy said. "And his family, they're some of the best people I've ever met. We still keep in touch. They're still special people and they always will be. Again, he was just a great guy, wonderful human being. I know we all miss him."

Paul doesn't plan to do anything special to commemorate his friend on the five-year anniversary of the tragic events of 9/11.

"I mean, you always remember the good times," Paul said. "It's not like something like you really want to mark. You always remember those who were victims -- and especially honor the heroes who gave their lives saving the people from those buildings -- but it's not like a birthday."

Hindy's parents, George and Ginny Hindy, started the Mark Hindy Charitable Foundation. Donations can be sent to:

The Mark Hindy Charitable Foundation, Inc.
c/o AYCO Charitable Foundation Executive Woods
855 Route 146, Suite 120
Clifton Park, NY 12065-8009