NEW YORK -- One World Trade Center stands 104 stories high above ground zero, on its way toward an eventual height of 1,776 feet when it's completed. It gleams mightily in the distance, the way the Twin Towers did before they came down on that horrific day 11 years ago.
The skyscraper is now the most visible testament to a nation's recovery from the terrorist attacks of 9/11, the lead building on a hallowed 16-acre site.
But the numbing loss and the need to remember is forever a part of America, as seen in the 4.5 million citizens who already have visited the National 9/11 Memorial since it opened to the public last fall. Look around Major League Baseball and you will see that as well. On Tuesday, MLB and its 30 clubs will join in the commemoration of the anniversary with patriotic on-field tributes. This remembrance is part of the game's ongoing and league-wide effort to honor those whose lives were lost and affected on that tragic day.
All on-field personnel, including players, coaches and umpires, will wear an American flag patch embroidered on the side of their caps, while special lineup cards and base jewels also will be used for every game played. The Blue Jays will wear customized caps to support both the U.S. and Canada. Home clubs will mark the anniversary with pregame ceremonies, and the "We Shall Not Forget" MLB silhouetted batter ribbon will be displayed throughout ballparks.
Everyone is saying the same thing
And praying that we end these
Senseless moments we are living.
As our fathers did before, we shall
Win this unwanted war.
And our children will enjoy the
Future, we'll be giving.
Legendary Cardinals broadcaster Jack Buck read that from his poem after the "cowardly" attacks, helping a nation regain its composure that night when the sport returned nearly a week later. Everyone will be doing the same thing on Tuesday, for the most part. Children who were babies then know about baseball now. Teenagers then are well into the workforce now.
Bryce Harper was 8 years old when five hijackers crashed American Airlines Flight 77 into the Pentagon at 9:37 a.m. ET on Sept. 11. Now Harper plays for the nearby Washington Nationals. On Tuesday night, he will bat against Mets knuckleballer R.A. Dickey at Citi Field. The Mets will maintain tradition on the field by honoring their city's first responders, wearing hats from the city agencies during batting practice and the national anthem prior to the 7:10 p.m. ET game -- the way they did when baseball came back.
"We want to thank Major League Baseball, Commissioner [Bud] Selig and Joe Torre for their support of honoring these agencies for their heroic actions that day," said Mets COO Jeff Wilpon.
The Gies family will throw out the ceremonial first pitch to honor fallen FDNY hero Ronnie Gies of Squad 228 in Maspeth, N.Y. He lost his life on 9/11. Carol and her sons, Tommy, Ronnie and Bobby, will be on the mound for the first pitch. Tommy is a firefighter with Ladder 147 in Flatbush, Brooklyn; Ronnie is a firefighter with Ladder 175 in East New York, Brooklyn; and Bobby recently took the test to become a firefighter.
"I always tried to be at Shea or Citi Field on 9/11, because those were always our family's fondest memories," Carol Gies said. "My husband was a gigantic Mets fan, as is my entire family. We all think happy thoughts when we are at a Mets game."
MLB Network will re-air the "Nine Innings From Ground Zero" special developed by MLB Productions at noon ET and feature coverage of the day's events throughout MLB in its studio programming. MLB.com will provide complete coverage of the day's ceremonies and perspectives through columns, news articles, multimedia and photographs across the league.
In Houston, the Astros will continue their own tradition during the day of having their players "adopt" local firehouses that correspond with their uniform numbers -- applying this year to Brian Bogusevic, Justin Maxwell and Chris Snyder, and also featuring former Astro Jose Cruz. Players will sign autographs and present a framed autographed jersey to firefighters as thanks for their service. Established in 2009, Astros players have now "adopted" 23 total fire stations through the Adopt-A-Firehouse program.
They call it "Heroes Night" in the hours that follow. In addition to the MLB-wide program, the Astros will hold a special pregame ceremony that will include Houston Mayor Annise Parker prior to the game against the Cubs. The ceremony will include five first pitches thrown by five members of the first-response team sent from Houston to New York after 9/11.
At U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago, Rick Kolomay will throw out the first pitch. He is a fire chief in Carol Stream, Ill. After witnessing the 9/11 attacks, Kolomay helped assemble a group of more than 50 firefighters from Chicagoland to travel to New York. Upon their arrival in Lower Manhattan on Sept. 12, they immediately commenced working on search-and-rescue operations at the World Trade Center. Team Chicago, as the group became known, continued its work in support of its FDNY brethren day and night over the next five days after the tragedy.
For Patriot Day in Philadelphia, Christopher Suprun, paramedic/firefighter and 9/11 responder, will throw the first pitch, and police and firefighters will carry out the 50 state flags. In Cincinnati, Patriot Day will include members of the Army's 101st Airborne Division Parachute Demonstration Team "Screaming Eagles" jumping over the ballpark and landing on the field during pregame.
In Arizona, Brigetta Barrett will sing the national anthem. She attends the University of Arizona and won the silver medal in the women's high jump at the Summer Olympics in London.
On the day of the A's-Angels game in Anaheim, staff from the Angels Baseball Foundation, Walmart and the Boys & Girls Club of Anaheim will distribute back to school clothing and shoes to more than 400 Club Kids from the Boys & Girls Club of Anaheim. The youths will each receive socks, underwear, jeans, shirts, a pair of shoes as well as an Angels shirt, a rally monkey and a school supplies pack.