Ten days after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, New York City, like the nation, was in a state of shock as smoke rose from where gleaming monuments had stood.
Industries halted as the world watched the unforgettable images that emanated from Manhattan. Included was Major League Baseball, which suspended play for five days.
On the night of Sept. 21, the Braves and Mets contested the first games in New York City since the attacks. Shea Stadium had a visible police presence.
The game was secondary until the bottom of the eighth inning though.
The Braves had a 2-1 lead and Queens-native Steve Karsay was pitching. Matt Lawton led off the frame for the Mets with a groundout to Rey Sanchez. The next batter, Edgardo Alfonzo, worked a walk before being replaced by pinch-runner Desi Relaford.
To the plate came Mike Piazza.
A decade later, the only relevant detail of the Mets’ 3-2 win is Piazza’s game-winning, two-run home run.
“Certainly, in retrospect, if anyone was going to have a moment for the Mets in those days, it had to be Mike. It absolutely had to be Mike. It typified who he was, what he meant to that team, to be the guy to step forward to deliver the hit that won that game and refocus people, even for the most fleeting second, back to the pennant race,” WFAN Mets radio play-by-play announcer Howie Rose told Metro.
Piazza’s home run has been credited in many circles with helping New York begin to redevelop its sense of normalcy after 9/11.
“One of the functions of sports is to bring people together and help a society heal. And we saw that occur with the games that the Mets and Yankees played after the events of 9/11. I can remember watching those games with a lump in my throat,” professor of Sociology at Queens College and Queensborough Community College Thomas Gorman (no relation to the writer of this story) wrote in an email to Metro.
Piazza caught a ceremonial first pitch from former teammate John Franco prior to the Mets’ game last night.
“I think he has a deeper appreciation for what that night and specifically what that home run meant every year since,” Rose said.
Follow Denis Gorman on Twitter @DenisGorman.