MLBN reunited the New York area natives from that famous Mets-Braves game 10 days after Sept. 11, 2001 to remember an emotional night at Shea Stadium.
If you’re old enough to remember Sept. 11, 2001, you have a 9/11 story. You remember where you were when you found out what happened. How you followed the events as they unfolded.
And if you were particularly close to the tragedy, you remember the first time things felt normal again. Even if only for a moment.
For so many baseball fans in New York, that moment came on Sept. 21 when the Mets hosted their arch-rivals, the Atlanta Braves, in the city’s first sporting event since the day that changed everything. In an emotional pregame ceremony, the city’s first responders took the field as fans waved American flags and both teams embraced in an unplanned and emotional show of support.
Then, the game started. And for three hours and seven minutes, New York had something to cheer for. In the eighth inning with the Mets trailing 2-1, Mike Piazza hit the most memorable home run of his career. It was a two-run shot that gave the Mets the lead — and ultimately, the win — in The Game for New York.
20 years later, MLB Network has brought back the game’s participants with New York ties to recount its impact on a city on a long road toward healing in an all-new documentary film.
MLB Network Presents: Remembering the Game for New York premieres Thursday night at 10 p.m. ET.
Boardroom got a look at the hour-long special, which features New York and New Jersey natives Al Leiter, John Franco, Mark DeRosa, and Jason Marquis gathered on a rooftop across the Hudson River from 1 World Trade Center to recount what the night meant to them.
Marquis started that game for Atlanta, while Franco pitched in relief for the Mets. DeRosa pinch ran and Leiter watched from the dugout, having started the Mets’ first game after 9/11 three days prior in Pittsburgh. Steve Karsay, the Queens native who gave up the home run to Piazza, joined separately. So did Brooklyn-born, Manhattan-raised Dave Martinez, who pinch-hit for the Braves in the eighth.
For an hour, all six players talked about growing up around the city and 9/11’s far-ranging impact. As Leiter says, the attack was personal to New Yorkers past and present.
It all made the home run that much sweeter, and for the Braves, it was hard to be too upset over losing the lead. Martinez, who was playing first base when Piazza stepped to the plate, even admits that a part of him was thinking “go, go” as the ball sailed toward the outfield fence.
You fully understand why as soon as the cameras show a group of firefighters in the stands smiling and clapping — the same human beings who had spent the last 10 days clearing rubble from a site where so many of their colleagues had died. Franco called it a “little band-aid on a big wound.”
Piazza isn’t featured in the special, but it doesn’t matter. The game’s signature moment was by him, but wasn’t about him — it was about New York’s infinite ability for resilience. And having the game’s New Yorkers tell that story just feels right.
You can watch a clip from Remembering the Game for New York here:
The documentary first airs on MLB Network Thursday, Sept. 9 at 10 p.m. ET. It re-airs Saturday, the 20th anniversary of 9/11, at both 1 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. ET.