Sunday, September 14, 2014

A Glimpse Backward at the Where and When

Being a hopeful sort (I keep it well-hidden so feel no embarrassment if it is something to date that has eluded you with regard to me), I kept flipping back to watch the Yankees game against Tampa Bay on Thursday night, even as the team f/k/a the Bronx Bombers flailed away helplessly against the Rays' young pitcher Alex Cobb.  Through 7+ innings Cobb threw a no-hitter, which was broken up by one of the newest Yankees, Chris Young, and the double he laced to the wall in left-center field.  Cobb then left the game - to robust applause by the home folks in the Bronx I might add who showed appropriate appreciation for his efforts, which his bullpen proceeded to blow.  In the bottom of the ninth, that man Young struck again and the Yankees snatched victory from defeat's jaws.  One wonders if Young could have possibly known the hell that awaited them in Baltimore on Friday ("We would love to drop both ends of a day/night doubleheader, thanks for asking!") he would have exerted the effort he did on Thursday night. 

Thursday was, of course, September 11.  As I watched the Yankees play the Rays on Thursday night, I found myself paying less attention to what was happening on the field than to what had happened at the Stadium on the first anniversary of that terrible Tuesday morning.  And unlike the first seven-plus innings of the game that was being played, the memory of that long-ago evening was a good one. 

I spent the evening of Wednesday, September 11, 2002, at Yankee Stadium.  Not the current iteration of course but its predecessor.  That night, the Yankees played the Orioles.  While as I recall it, Margaret was less than thrilled when I told her I had purchased tickets for Rob and I to be at the Stadium that evening, she understood that as Yankees fans it seemed to us to be the place to be to honor the memory of those who had died and to pay tribute to them and to their loved ones.  

Truth be told, we did not stay to the game's conclusion.  Typical of a Yankees/O's game of that era, it took forever to play and for good measure it was not resolved until the bottom of the 11th inning.  I do recall, though, what an incredible, moving evening it was.   Shortly before the game began, the Yankees unveiled a monument dedicated to the Heroes and Victims of September 11, and appropriately entitled "We Remember", in the hallowed ground of Monument Park.

Branford Marsalis played "Taps" on the saxophone during the pre-game ceremony.  During the 7th inning stretch, the Yankees played "God Bless America", which they have done unabated at every home game since September 11, 2001 and which, to my knowledge, they are the only MLB team that continues to do so.  However, during most home games now the Yankees play a recording of Kate Smith singing "God Bless America".  Not that night.  On that night, the great Irish tenor Ronan Tynan stood in the area behind home plate and sang it.   Try as I might, I could not locate any video of Dr. Tynan's performance from September 11, 2002.  However, I think that his performance of it at the Stadium on September 11, 2009 conveys fairly well how it felt to hear him sing it in such a setting.

An unforgettable evening.  One for which I shall forever be grateful that I was able to share with Rob. As the great Pete Hamill has observed, "And on certain days, yes, you want to live forever." 



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