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How Baseball Helped Heal America After 9/11 - The Role of Sports

The great game of baseball

The great game of baseball

The Role of Sports After 9/11

Baseball undoubtedly helped heal a hurting nation after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Football surely did, too, and, perhaps other sports, but none more than baseball, a game I’ve been following since the young days of childhood, tuning in the radio to listen to the St. Louis Cardinals with my dad and brothers.

Remember the old Chevrolet jingle? “We love baseball, hot dogs, apple pie, and Chevrolet, baseball, hot dogs, apple pie, and Chevrolet….” The sentiment expressed in that catchy tune from 30-some years ago is what I equated with the beauty of the game of baseball and its integral part of American culture. After 9/11, baseball proved its significance as more than just a game.

By no means am I saying that America was healed in those weeks and months after 9/11, when baseball started back up again after a six day hiatus. Nor am I saying that America is healed now. But America is resilient, and the phrase “Life goes on,” though often overused, has perhaps never held more truth than it did in the days after 9/11. Days when it seemed the world seemingly stopped. No planes in the skies. Fewer cars on the streets. Parents not knowing whether or not to send their kids to school…or go to work. No one could escape the tragedy of 9/11. Whether or not we personally lost loved ones, we watched their distraught and destroyed families, as they were transmitted into our living rooms, day after day, night after night, with story after story of devastating loss.


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Reactions of Baseball Players

How were we to care about a game, a mere sport, when we were reeling from the senseless deaths of nearly 3000 innocent people who had left behind countless thousands more to mourn? Atlanta Braves’ baseball player, Chipper Jones, and others, recall that they didn’t care when—or if—they played again, as baseball became insignificant, even with the play-offs coming up. How could it not be secondary, at best, in light of what had happened? Still, after six days, Major League Baseball had decided to again take the field.


The St. Louis Cardinals and Jack Buck

On the night of September 17th, I tuned in to see the return of my St. Louis Cardinals, who were hosting the Milwaukee Brewers. Jack Buck, long-time Cardinals announcer, delivered an eloquent speech and a touching poem that he had written for the occasion. His words exemplified America’s strength and resolve. He asked, "Should we be here?" and answered his own question with "Yes."


Lifting the spirits of New York after 9/11

Hope for New York and the Mets

Across the nation from St. Louis, four days later, on September 21st, New York Mets' player Mike Piazza lifted the spirits of New Yorkers when he lifted a home run ball out of Shea Stadium. That home run is credited as key in bringing back a sense of normalcy to New York.

Sure, baseball is "just a game." A game that has been a part of this country through difficult changes and traumatic loss. A game that helps us to focus on life again as we learn to live again and enjoy normal things.


Read more about the effect the Mets had in New York's healing

Fans around America

New York and St. Louis weren't the only baseball stadiums full of supportive fans and proud Americans. Around the nation, baseball fans waved their flags and sang “God Bless America” during the seventh-inning stretch, an act that has become a regular part of the game.

Baseball fans, brought together by their love of the game and love of their country, exhibited a new sense of comaraderie and patriotism, enthusiastically supporting their teams while remembering America and its fallen heroes.


We Will Endure....

So, what was the role of baseball in steering a grieving nation towards healing? On its simplest level, the game gave Americans an outlet, a release, and even an escape from the sorrow they saw in those early, dark days. When everything had changed, when nothing felt normal, baseball stepped in to help give us some kind of sense of normalcy. On a deeper level, baseball gave Americans a sense of solidarity and perhaps a new found pride for their country and respect for fellow Americans.

Baseball didn’t just give Americans a distraction; it helped them to begin to heal, as it joined them in honoring those lost, as well as in the efforts to survive a changed world. Fans embraced baseball's recognition of the great loss America had suffered, as well as its presence in helping Americans move on, something the whole country had to do.

Ten years later, I watch the pre-game ceremonies before an NFL football game--stirring stories from 9/11, a beautifully haunting rendition of TAPS. All day, the airways remember 9/11 with its programs and its commercials. Even with "moving on," there will always be continual remembrance. Often we hear, “We will never forget.” And we won’t. And neither will baseball.

September 11, 2011


Comments

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on December 22, 2015:

davidw--The main picture? It's the New York Mets' stadium before a military service. There was a link to the information about the photo, but that's what it was. Thanks for reading and commenting.

davidw on December 13, 2015:

what stadium is that picture

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on September 11, 2013:

You're welcome, Rebecca. Glad you enjoyed it.

Rebecca Mealey from Northeastern Georgia, USA on September 11, 2013:

Timely and well presented. What a great way to honor 9/11. Thanks for sharing this.

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on September 01, 2012:

CC--You're right about "doing normal things" to start healing. Baseball certainly has played a big part of that during hard times. Thanks for stopping by!

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on August 30, 2012:

Hi, Bill! Glad you came by for some baseball. Thanks! I love baseball and what it has represented for people who were hurting. Thanks again!!!

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on August 30, 2012:

Aw, thanks, Sharyn! I appreciate that.

Cynthia Calhoun from Western NC on August 30, 2012:

Ah, America's pastime. I think our country identifies with this sport on so many levels. It was good that the teams continued to the play-offs to help fire up that sense of normalcy in a time of great loss. Even on a much smaller level, the loss of a loved one is so traumatic that sometimes the healing process can really start once a person resumes "normal" daily activities. Awesome hub, Vicki. :)

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on August 30, 2012:

How did I miss a baseball hub? Great hub, great points. Baseball has always been here for America. During the two great wars baseball was like a guiding light, keeping people entertained and giving them something to focus on rather than the killing and heartache. Great job Vicki!

Sharon Smith from Northeast Ohio USA on August 30, 2012:

What an awesome hub and so glad I am reading this now, right before September 11. Your beautiful compassion shines through big time. Definitely sharing!

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on September 19, 2011:

That's about the best compliment I've had as a writer, Epi. Thanks so much.I don't know what else to say, except that the admiration is mutual!

epigramman on September 18, 2011:

...always love what you have to say/write - you are a sincere and honest and wonderful person/writer - it's a pleasure believe me - let's fill the world up with more of you!!

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Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on September 13, 2011:

Thanks for reading, sportspro. Shop4teams sounds cool. I'll keep it in mind for gifts. Thanks!

sportspro from USA on September 13, 2011:

Great article. 9.11 still puts tears in my eyes, how people are still suffering. But, on a lighter note, if u r into baseball, please check out Shop4teams. There u will find 25% to 50% discounts on baseball uniforms. FREE twill lettering & numbers in 2 or 3 colors on the totally custom baseball uniforms.

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on September 12, 2011:

Will, you're an Arizona fan? What about Arizona football? My brothers are huge fans--followed them after they left St. Louis back in the 80's? 70's? I don't remember. Yes, the singing of "God Bless America" is a neat tradition that started. Thanks for your comments. You're right on!

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on September 12, 2011:

Ah, Lucky Cats, a like-minded woman out there!thank you. So cool about your article. Yes, baseball helped us "ease into life after that fateful day." I love how you said that.Good to see you!

WillStarr from Phoenix, Arizona on September 12, 2011:

And our Arizona Diamondbacks won it all that year, beating the New York Yankees!

Baseball also started a new and terrific tradition after 9-11...singing 'God Bless America' during the seventh inning stretch. It seems instinctual for Americans to turn to God after such awful events.

Kathy from The beautiful Napa Valley, California on September 12, 2011:

Victoria...I love baseball...and I really like this hub. I remember, well, the time immediately following 9/11....as a huge fan of the game, I watched w/interest and respect the players, teams and leagues when they reconvened. I wrote a LTE about this very thing. The San Francisco Chronicle...yes, America's Favorite Passtime...and I believe it still is...helped us ease into life after that fateful day. Great hub, Victoria.!!! Up Useful, Awesome, Interesting

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on September 12, 2011:

Lord--I do know a few other women who have a passion for sports, but it's for football or basketball--not baseball so much. I don't know why. I think it's a beautiful and pure game (despite any steroid use--haha.

I have these images in my head of kids across America throwing a baseball in the backyard with Dad or siblings, and it's comforting. My brothers and I spent many hours throwing, hitting, and fielding that baseball out in the yard. It seems like such an American tradition, something that holds people together....

Joseph De Cross from New York on September 12, 2011:

Victoria,

unbelievable! Had to be a woman writing about our cherished sports...I mean, I thought men were good enough to write about it. Thanks, and I agree with my fellow friends... a way to release tensions as part of a crowd in our beloved country.

LORD

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on September 12, 2011:

Thanks, Fullerman. You hit the nail on the head with your comments. I also really enjoyed your poem about 9/11.

Ryan from Louisiana, USA on September 11, 2011:

I could not agree more. I dont think people realize how important baseball is and will always be to America. It was a tough time, but to get our minds off of things baseball allowed us to live again. Baseball helped America transition into our daily lives again. great hub, voted awesome and voted up.

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on September 11, 2011:

I agree, venzkhvam. Music and sports are two things that can take us away from our every day worries. They DO keep us going. Even though baseball is "just a game," it, like other sports, and music, too, all have their place in making our lives easier and more bearable. Thanks for the comments.

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on September 11, 2011:

thejeff...Thanks, as always. I agree with you and Cutters that it is a sad day that needs something positive. Glad you both liked it. I've had a hub-writing drought the entire month of September, so maybe this was a good one to start back with. Thanks for your comments!

VENZKHVAM from Milk way galaxy, trying to find a more adventurous place in another galaxy with my great followers on September 11, 2011:

I FEEL SPORTS AND MUSIC IS TWO THINGS WHICH REALLY MAKE YOU FORGET ALL YOUR WORRIES ASIDE AND KEEP YOU GOING.

I THING THIS IS RIGHT ONE

VOTED UP.

Cutters from South Carolina on September 11, 2011:

What a great Hub on such a sad day thank you and good job! Voted up as well

Dave from United States on September 11, 2011:

Just a great Hub on a day that needs great Hubs like this. Good job!

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