Guest Post by Stephen Cioffoletti
As a New Yorker, the events that took place on September 11, 2001 are at times, too painful to describe-something that at times is so surreal, you wonder if you will wake up one day and it would all just be a horrific nightmare. But what makes New York so unique is even during the toughest times, there are special moments that bring its people and its city together like no other place in the world.
That moment for me was September 21, 2001—the first sporting event playing in New York after the attacks. The Mets were hosting the Braves—always a heated rivalry—but on this day the dislike the two clubs historically had for one another was irrelevant. This game meant so much more—for many people, in a small way, it meant a step forward for New York.
Funny thing is I don’t remember all that much of the game. I remember my parents having so much hesitation about me even going and being quite displeased as I waived them off leaving their house to head to the game with my buddy. I remember the eerie feeling around the stadium—eyes of sadness surrounded me; yet there was an underlying feeling of excitement—maybe that sense of normalcy is what we all needed, or maybe it was simply catching some baseball on a nice fall night.
I think for a lot of people, the singing of the National Anthem that night meant something to them for the first time in their lives. Tears welled up in eyes all across the stadium—fans and players—that was our country’s song; and to hear it at that moment stirred up so many emotions—anger, sadness, hope, and most importantly, pride.
Well the game started, and I can’t tell you a thing about the first 7 ½ innings. Maybe it was a blur, or maybe the events that took place at the end of the game is the only part that truly mattered……But this is what I do remember….
It was the bottom of the eighth, there was a runner on first (I wish I could tell you who), Steve Karsay was pitching, Mike Piazza was batting…..I leaned over to my buddy and jokingly said to him, “If he hits a HR, I’m going to smack you on the butt” ….reality is I never thought in a million years what happened a few pitches later would actually take place—but sometimes a moment happens for a reason.
The count I don’t recall—but Steve Karsey threw a mid-nineties fastball on the outer half of the plate—and Mike Piazza crushed his pitch over the left-centerfield wall…..I wish I could describe to you the feeling, the sound, the collective exhale that happened in that stadium at that moment—and the ensuing words cannot do it justice…..There were people jumping, crying, hugging, high-fiving, screaming—and of course me smacking my buddy. It was as if the Mets had taken the lead in the most important game in their history; in the most important baseball game ever at the single moment. There was a feeling of pure happiness, a sense of relief that we all needed—something that let us all know we were are going to be ok. Maybe that sounds all cliché, or maybe you are thinking ‘it was just a baseball game’…..but I know there are about 55,000 other New Yorkers that were able to experience that night and know exactly what I felt.
And of course, the Mets did hold on and win that game, 3-2. I’m not sure how the ninth inning ended either, I just know we won.