TSN Archives: The experience of returning to the baseball field after 9/11
This article originally appeared in the Oct. 1, 2001, edition of The Sporting News. Todd Jones, a reliever for the Twins, was a regular contributor to TSN and wrote a column about his first game back following 9/11.
The greatest rally
We went back to work last week.
It was hard.
Nothing I have done with baseball prepared me for last week.
From the pregame ceremony to the first pitch to the time I got up and went in, everything was different. The pregame ceremony of the first game back was OK. We had two hot-air balloons inside the dome.
A big choir sang “God Bless America,” and the national anthem.
We all had to be on the line, just like opening day. We had to be out there in front of all those people.
It would have been better if we had a chance to do some of that grieving alone.
As the anthem played, I found myself thinking about the tragedy. I got choked up, then boom, I’m on the dome’s enormous video screen.
I was tearing up and I wondered: Should I try to stop crying or just let it go and let it happen? Local police and firefighters were out there with us. When I looked over to see them, I think I lost it, as did the whole place.
We didn’t know those lost souls in New York, the Pentagon or Pennsylvania, but we bonded together when the attacks happened and in their aftermath.
After the anthem, we got the game underway. Brad Radke was outstanding — he had a no-hitter through seven innings. That was good, because it allowed us to concentrate on the game at hand.
During the seventh-inning stretch they played “God Bless the U.S.A.” by Lee Greenwood. That was the most awesome moment of the evening.
By the time the ninth inning rolled around, Brad was gone and I got up. I was able to get loose, but my heart wasn’t in it.
When I got in the game, there were two outs — thank God. All I had to do was get one out. I got it, then it was over.
The crowd cheered all night. One thing that was nice was there was no booing. That’s unprecedented.
There were no foul signs, no foul language — just people trying to limp through the toughest time of our generation. That was cool.
Because ballplayers make so much money, fans have a hard time relating. The tragedy helped break some of that down.
I hope in the coming weeks people can get back to somewhat of a normal life, doing normal things. But if you want to be kind to the human sitting next to you, that’s cool, too.
When we went on strike in 1994, that was the first time I was ashamed to be a big leaguer.
This is one of the proudest moments I’ve had as a big leaguer — and as an American.
Source: Read Full Article