A brief reprise, Part II

american-flag

Hi all.  Again, wanted to break from continuity slightly due to a somewhat baseball-related topic.  15 years ago, baseball and the entire world ground to a sudden halt when the country was attacked by terrorists.  It is such a well known event that it seems like it doesn’t make much sense to rehash the events of that day, but it’s important for us all to remember what happened, and learn from it.  Beginning at 8:46 AM, hijacked airplanes slammed into the two World Trade Center towers (WTC 1 and 2), the Pentagon and a small field in Shanksville, PA (thankfully never reaching its target due to the courage of the passengers and crew aboard the airplane).  Each airplane was travelling roughly at 500 miles per hour when reaching its destination, giving the planes themselves tons of kinetic energy to damage each location with.  This, along with thousands of gallons of burning jet fuel, led to the eventual collapse of both WTC towers within two hours of the first plane hitting.  All told, including passengers and rescue workers, nearly 3000 lives were extinguished that day.  This doesn’t even count the number of soldiers and civilians who have lost their lives in the ensuing conflicts in the Middle East.  Truly, this was a day that altered the lives and history of this country forever.

Baseball took a week off, not playing another game until the country was ready to move on.  And it was baseball that helped heal the nation, especially in New York City where the devastation was at its worst.  The Mets were the ones that played the first games in the area following the attacks, and like most of the people, they seemed to just be going through the motions.  Then, this happened:

And it was glorious.  That one swing made everything OK again, even if it was just for one day.  People smiled, laughed and cried with excitement and joy for the first time in what felt like an eternity.

Of course, all across baseball people were doing whatever they could for life to seemingly get back to normal.  Jack Buck, the longtime excellent announcer for the Cardinals, was at the forefront of the world when on ESPN, before the Cardinals played, he read a poem he had written.

As the pennant races heated back up, life was normalized somewhat.  We needed the distraction, and baseball provided it with abundance.  The World Series that year was the greatest of my lifetime, with dominant pitching from Clemens, Schilling and Randy Johnson, along with some great comeback wins by the Yankees in New York City, joy was present again.

That, to me, is why baseball will always be America’s Game.  Football may have the popularity, but baseball has the soul that the country needs at its darkest moments.  It was baseball that kept the country happy during WWII, and it was baseball that saved the country following 9/11.

The Terrorist Attacks have taught us a great deal about life and resilience.  We know now how quickly evil can strike, turning a beautiful and clear day into one filled with smoke and fire.  We also know that we will survive and flourish following such tragic events because that’s what we are as Americans.  We fight, we rebuild, we get stronger.  Baseball is a part of that, and always will be.

God Bless all who lost lives or loved ones on this day 15 years ago, or any of the conflicts since then.  I hope we all pray today that we may finally know peace.

A Brief Reprise

Hi all.  We’re taking a bit of a break from the rankings for this post here.  If you want to see the next post featuring Ted Lyons, well just come back tomorrow and it’ll be here.  But, I couldn’t let today pass without posting.

Today is my father’s 61st birthday, and like most people my love for the game has come directly from my father.  Every baseball memory I have is inextricably linked to him in some way.  My first game was with him back in 1995.  We went to Fenway Park to see the Bosox take on the Twins.  I got to see Mo Vaughn hit a homerun that day.  And of course, my dad was the first person to take me to Cooperstown and the Hall of Fame.

I remember being infatuated with the big names.  Guys like Ruth, Aaron, Mays, Mantle, Musial all seemed to be alive there, and loomed over us like giants.  As a kid, I always made it a point to skip a lot of the names I didn’t know (like most of the people that have been covered so far), but my dad made it a point to talk to me about a lot of them and recognize their importance in the game.

When I got older, dad started teaching me more about the ins and outs of the game and lots of trivia.  My greatest memory is probably the one day we did a trivia contest together in the Hall.  It was a Jeopardy based game, and I was equal parts excited, nervous and cocky.  The first question asked who was the rookie outfielder for the Red Sox that debuted the same year that Gehrig retired, an easy question for the both of us.  And with a sneer I said “Theodore Samuel Williams”.  We, of course, dominated that game, but dad wouldn’t let me rest on it.  He took me to task for being cocky, while admitting that it was probably the largest margin for victory they’ve ever had.

And that’s what makes my dad a great father.  He never forgot to let me know he was proud of my accomplishments, but also reminded me to keep working hard at whatever I’m doing.  It’s the entire reason that I’ve been able to do something like this task.

The man I am today, the traits I someday wish to pass down to another generation, and the way I live my life all have come because of him.

Happy Birthday Dad.  I love you and thank you for all you’ve done.