Remembering Mike Piazza's post-9/11 home run
On the occasion of an emotional and uplifting day at Fenway Park, let's look back on another time when baseball again played a such a central role.
At this writing, Saturday's game between the Royals and Red Sox has just started, but already it's been an emotional and uplifting day in Fenway. It's too much to say baseball provides any real "healing" or anything of that nature, but turning to sports -- most especially baseball -- after a tragedy is in some ways a necessary ritual for America. So it is with Boston and the awful ways in which that city has been afflicted in recent days.
Inevitably, the terrorist attack at the Boston Marathon has called to mind 9/11 -- not in scale, of course, but certainly in the underlying evil. Just the same, what's going on at Fenway right now, and what may yet happen over the course of perhaps the most important nine innings to be played this season, calls to mind a certain night in Queens more than a decade ago.
The Mets and Braves met in Shea Stadium 10 days after the attacks of 9/11 for the first major sporting event to be held in beleaguered New York since those attacks. In the New York Times, the day after what you're about to see happened, Jack Curry set the scene for this story's hero, Mets catcher Mike Piazza:
As demoralized as Piazza looked and sounded, he knew there was still a game to play against the Atlanta Braves last night at Shea Stadium. Piazza said the game, the first in New York since the attacks 11 days ago, was important because of what it symbolized. The game would not change anything for the thousands who have been affected, but it would signify a return and a small step toward normalcy. Piazza shrugged after he mentioned symbolism, wondering if that was realistic.
Maybe it was. Maybe it was because of Piazza. After a draining and adventurous evening, Piazza ...
Let's interrupt at this point and show you the moments that followed:
''This isn't life and death, this is baseball,'' Piazza said after the game. ''I went up to a couple of guys and told them, 'God bless you and God bless your family.' Life is precious. We learned that here.''
You may argue that sports matter more than they should, but know that they matter.
Enjoy the game, Boston.