Post 9/11 Baseball- When the country came together

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Players unite still 17 years after 9/11. Image via MLB.com

Woodland Hills, Calif- Vicious Santa Ana winds, a disgusting green carpet and a whirlwind of terror, love and hate. Those were the things I remember most before baseball recaptured the heart of America. 

At 9 years old I was petrified at the world. The World Trade Center and Twin Towers had come down just a month ago. My mother was crying night after night. One of our family friends had caught an early flight from Boston that due to arrive in Los Angeles to see her newborn daughter and six year old boy. She never made it home.

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It was a memory that was seared into my brain. Nothing could cure my mother’s broken heart and having an understanding of what just happened, wanted to avenge the sorrow that was created. Again, I was 9 years old.

Flash forward through the coming weeks, I had dreams of fighting terrorists in the desert and even wrote a letter to defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld. Committed to fighting an enemy the country had never faced.

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Letter by the author addressed to defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld post 9/11. Photo by Ethan Hanson

An enemy who had landed a kidney blow to the spirit of the United States and an enemy who laughed and mocked at the sight of bleeding bodies and missing poster signs that lined Wall Street.

The country is desperate need of a cure. To lift the spirits of vulnerability and regain the composure and confidence that was core to American Absolutism. America turned to its past time.

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That year it wasn’t about who was in the playoffs. It did not matter whether you were in first place like the Seattle Mariners or in last place like the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. The country needed to wrap its arms around something. To show the world even when broken, America could still smile.

It was longtime St. Louis Cardinals broadcaster Jack Buck who made the first step. It had been three years since Buck had called his last game. 44 years of being the voice of Super Bowls and the World Series along with the myriad of sporting events. In 2001 he was not the shadow of his former self. Buck suffered through Parkinson’s Disease, diabetes and sciatica.

Six days later after the attack, Buck’s voice ran true. Truer then Kirk Gibson’s home run call on national radio or the excitement of calling Ozzie Smith at shortstop and being the voice to the countless dazzling performances of pitcher Bob Gibson.

Buck’s voice shook and withered but remained strong, powerful and courageous. His words were defiant. He along with the rest of major league baseball gave everyone to believe again.

Red Sox fans and Yankees fans were hugging. Dodgers and Giants fans embraced each other as one. The standings did not matter. The internal bleeding soul of the country began to lessen.

Jack Buck’s last nationwide appearance would heal my senses and strengthen my resolve. As any great broadcaster would do, Buck saved his best call for last.

Written by Ethan Hanson

Educate Yourself 

How Major League Baseball Responded to 9/11

Baseball’s return to New York post 9/11

The Role of Baseball after 9/11

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