- Posted: 1:47 PM, September 7, 2011
Nearly 10 years later, the attacks of September 11th remain as vivid as ever. With the Yankees on the road for Sunday's anniversary, the team honored the tragedy with a ceremony before Wednesday afternoon’s game with the Orioles at Yankee Stadium.
“This is something that affected the entire country, not just New York City, so I think September 11th is a day that is remembered all over this country,” Jeter said in a press conference before the game. “We’re baseball players. People always look at us as being heroes, then we have an opportunity to meet families and firefighters and EMS workers, those were the true heroes.”
Several heroes were recognized in the ceremony, including wounded soldiers who served in Afghanistan and Iraq, including Sgt. 1st Class Leroy Arthur Petry, who was presented with the Congessional Medal of Honor on July 12, becoming the second living recipient of the award since the actions of the Vietnam War, all escorted by former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. Petry was joined on the field to throw out the first pitch by longtime Yankees employee Hank Grazioso, who lost both of his sons in the World Trade Center attacks.
Mariano Rivera recalled meeting with many such people personally affected.
“I didn’t know what to say, so I just put my arm around these people,” Rivera said. “I was telling myself, what can I say to these people to make them feel comfortable, but I guess our presence was enough…The whole country got together. Everyone was helping everyone. We were one nation. It was a beautiful thing.”
Posada added, “All they wanted was to shake our hands, to tell us thank you for playing the game that they love watching.”
That autumn, the Yankees gave fans a postseason they could never forget, playing in what Rivera thinks is the greatest World Series ever, against the Arizona Diamondbacks. The Yankees may have fallen three outs shy of a fourth consecutive championship, but they earned legions of new fans on their journey,
“Joe Torre said before the playoffs, ‘We’re not only playing for New York, we’re playing for the rest of the country,’” Posada said. “Everybody was pulling for us. I remember going to Chicago for the first game [after the attacks], there was a banner that said “Chicago loves New York.” That put everything into perspective for me. We got a standing ovation when we took the field in Chicago.”
It was a time when New Yorkers were profoundly shocked and saddened, but most of all, proud. Jeter, and the Yankees, were no exception.
“Playing for New York at that time, it was something very special and made us all feel proud,” Jeter said. “It made us feel that people were looking up to us and that we had a responsibility, not just to win a baseball game, but to represent ourselves in a positive light and play the game the right way.”