Remembering Mets History: (2001) The Mets & Baseball Return's 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 can't 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.''

Quotes- Robin Ventura 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.''

____________

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

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

New York's Al Leiter (11-10) took the mound against the Pirates Todd Ritchie (11-12) 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. But Pirate pitcher, Todd Ritchie walked Tsuyoshi Shinjo with the bases loaded, bringing in the Mets first run. 

In the 5th, the Pirates eventually tied the game after Al Leiter walked Kevin Young to start the inning, then gave up a double to Warren Morris & a single to Craig Wilson. 


Both pitchers & their bullpens held their own, keeping the tense game tied up until the 9th inning. Al Leiter pitched seven innings allowing a run on four hits, walking three & striking out four. Ritchie gave up a run on four hits in five innings, striking out five Mets & walking two.

In the 8th inning, John Franco came on for the Mets, he started out by striking out Chad Hermansen & then retired the next two batters in order.

In the top of the 9th, 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 to left field scoring Shinjo with the lead run. 

Next up, pinch hitter, Mark Johnson doubled to right, bringing home Jay Payton & Rey 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. Benitez then struck out Kevin Young & Gary Mathews Jr. to end the game.

John Franco earned the Mets emotional victory. They 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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