Sep 15, 2016

Remembering Mets History: (2001) The Mets & MLB Return One Week After 911

Monday September 17th, 2001: After the tragic attacks of 911, MLB stopped play for one week as New York City & the rest of the country tried to recover best it could. 

The New York Mets players worked at various relief efforts & points around the City. Shea Stadium's parking lot was used as a supply drop off point & as well as other various areas of support. Players like Bobby Valentine, Mike Piazza, John Franco, Al Leiter, Robin Ventura & Todd Zeile visited victim's families, fire houses & Ground Zero at the World Trade Center site.

A dark blue NYFD cap was sent to Mets player Rep. at the time; Todd Zeile by a widow of a rescue worker who died at World Trade Center on 911. Zeile began wearing the hat to work outs & around town at the various events he visited. 

Other Mets players asked where they could get similar hats. Next thing you knew caps of NYPD & FDNY were coming for all the players. Each player chose a hat to wear in support of the various New York City departments. The team wore the hats at works outs & when play was to resume a week later, they wore them at batting practice.

MLB told the club they could not wear them during the game, because they were not officially licensed. The team held a meeting & decided they were going to wear them no matter what. Manager Bobby Valentine agreed, telling the club sarcastically: "we cant wear the hats.... Right!".

Todd Zeile was credited saying at the time that MLB officials "are going to have to pry these hats off our heads,'' but he later said that the actual quote was "The voice of all our players. We were all in this together. It was so symbolic. It was so representative of New York. Major League Baseball knew they were fighting a losing battle. They saw the value in what we were doing. They considered it futile to fight us on it.''

Robin Ventura said with a smile, "We're wearing the hats. If they [MLB] didn't want us to play the game, fine, but we're wearing the hats.''

Starting Lineups

 September 17th, 2001: Bobby Valentines third place Mets (77-73) were seven games back of the Atlanta Braves & still alive in the wild card race as play resumed after the 911 attacks. 

On this night the Mets were in Pittsburgh playing Loyd McClendon's sixth place Pirates (55-89) in front of 25,902 at PNC Park.

New York's Al Leiter took the mound against the Pirates Todd Ritchie, as baseball life began to carry on. In the Mets top of the third inning, Rey Ordonez walked & Matt Lawton was hit by a pitch. With two outs, Mike Piazza was intentionally walked & then Todd Ritchie allowed a bases loaded walk to Tsuyoshi Shinjo scoring the Mets first run. The Pirates eventually tied the game & it remained that way until the 9th inning. 

 Tsuyoshi Shinjo was hit by a pitch by Pirates reliever; Mike Fetters to start out the inning. Shinjo then stole second base. Fetters go the next two outs  but walked Jay Payton. Rey Ordonez then came through & singled, scoring Shinjo with the lead run 2-1 Mets. Next up, pinch hitter; Mark Johnson doubled, bringing home Payton & Ordonez, putting New York up 4-1. 

In the bottom of the 9th, Armando Benitez got Aramis Ramirez to ground out then served up a single to Jason Kendall. Bemnitez then struck out Kevin Young & Gary Mathews Jr. to end the game.

John Franco earned the victory after he had pitched a perfect 8th inning for a very happy Bobby Valentine. They Mets went on to sweep the Pirates in that series and then returned to Shea Stadium for a Friday night game against the Atlanta Braves on September 23rd. It was to be the first game played in New York City since the 911 attacks.

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