09/15/01 5:00 PM ET
MLB players to wear flags for rest of season
By Jim Molony / MLB.com
HOUSTON -- To show support of America during this time of crisis, every MLB player, manager and coach will wear an American flag patch on his cap and jersey for the rest of the season."I think it's a great idea," said Shawn Green of the Dodgers. "Just going around the neighborhood seeing flags in front of houses and on cars and different things like that, it makes you feel good to know that everyone is binding together on this and that our country is a tremendous place, the greatest place in the world. No tragedy can defeat the spirit that we have in this country and that's what it's showing right now." A patch of the American flag will be sewn on the back of the jerseys, just above the letters. It will replace the MLB logo because MLB wanted a meaningful symbolic gesture. "Living in New York, we are so much more a part of this," said MLB Senior Vice President Howard Smith. "The symbolism is important. This thing is much bigger than the game. It's not about a return to normalcy. And the best way to portray that is cover up the MLB logo with the flag." A 1 x 1 1/2 inch flag will also be stitched on the left side of every cap, which takes about an hour to do 20-25 hats. The work is being completed by the New Era Cap Co. They figure "there are about 1,000 hats to do, so they have a lot of work to do," according to Smith. The MLB logo on the side of all the bases also will be covered by a flag, and batting helmets will also be adorned with the symbol. Players throughout both leagues expressed overwhelming support of this gesture. "Anything that supports our country during this tragedy and helps the nation move on (as well as) recognizes that we're still united as a whole people in this country, I think is a great idea," said Houston pitcher Mike Jackson. "We're all together in this, the entire country, and we need to do whatever we can to do to get through this." Jackson suggests that wearing the patches is a conspicuous way of showing unity. "Any time you come across a situation like this where everyone's safety been threatened and the safety of the United States people has been threatened, you need to pull together," Jackson said. "Everything has changed. Security measures for any type of entertainment is going to change, and the way we look at things we took for granted before is going to change. But we can still stay together as a country and try to work together so these types of things won't happen again. Life is not fair, but we've still got to go on and live our lives and not be afraid." San Francisco second baseman Jeff Kent will be proud to wear the flag patches. "I'm all for that," he said. "America has been hit by a tragedy, but we will recover and move on. We need to show our support any way we can." Baseball will resume Monday following a six-day interruption caused by Tuesday's terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. The Old Glory patches worn by the on-field personnel are one of several steps being taken by Major League Baseball to mourn the victims of the tragedy. At each ballpark, Major League Baseball and its clubs will also: Present each fan at series-opening games Monday and Tuesday with an American flag; invite fans to sing "God Bless America" either before the game or during the seventh-inning stretch; hold a pre-game moment of silence; provide information encouraging fans to donate blood; and make substantial contributions to the national recovery efforts. "I think it's a token of our support for people that are suffering," Houston outfielder Lance Berkman said of clubs' and players' overall efforts to get back on the field and help in whatever way possible. "Any time something like this happens, I don't think anybody needs a reminder. Nobody will ever forget this. It is going to be tough to get back in the routine. The first couple of games are going to seem kind of weird." In concert with the Major League Baseball Players Association, MLB will sell numerous special items of memorabilia on MLB.com with all proceeds going to the relief effort. Some believe the patches will serve as a reminder of both the nation's unity as well as last Tuesday's tragedy. "No one is going to look at the flag without thinking about what's going on," Minnesota Manager Tom Kelly said. "It's on everybody's minds right now and will continue to be. (The patches are) a way to show support." Houston Manager Larry Dierker agreed. "I think the anthem and the flag will mean more to us than it usually does," he said. "I think everyone has a greater appreciation for the lifestyle we're able to lead in this country. When they see someone have it taken away, it's a very provocative thing to happen. It's really sort of life-changing." The patches in a small way represent a nation moving forward, according to others. "I think the important thing for everybody to focus on is that life does go on and that we have a special opportunity because of the role that baseball plays in society to have a special positive impact on helping the country pick up the pieces and move forward," Houston General Manager Gerry Hunsicker said. Baseball is widely considered to be a social institution and as such can help the nation heal. Several players mentioned President Bush's desire for sporting events to resume and said they believe the patches are a way of showing support to not only the victims of Tuesday's tragedy but of the nation's efforts to endure. "I think we're the National Pastime of the United States of America, (and) I think President Bush wants to show who did this that it's not going to disrupt our way of life," Texas pitcher Rick Helling said. "People need time to get over it, but baseball being the National Pastime, it will be good for the country and good for morale. It would show the people who did it, life goes on in America." And if those "people" happen to be watching, they will see a unified MLB wearing their flag patches prominently. "There are rivalries in this game but those rivalries are nothing compared to the way we all love our country," the Yankees' Chuck Knoblauch said.
Jim Molony is a regional writer for MLB.com based in Houston. Site reporters from around both leagues contributed to this report. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.