Baseball’s Healing Powers

Sophia Vlahakis, Editor-in-Chief, News and Sports

Sports are often our escape. An escape from reality to a world with storybook endings, where anyone can be a hero, where there is always hope and where there are endless possibilities. But sometimes, the game is not meant to transport fans; it’s not a distraction but a remedy.

On the 20th anniversary of the September 11th attacks, the Mets and Yankees took the field as one and all of the onlookers became one as well. Jacob deGrom was not just the Mets’ ace. Gerrit Cole was not just the Yankees’ ace. deGrom and Cole were New York’s aces. Pete Alonso was not just the Mets’ slugger. Aaron Judge was not just the Yankees’ slugger. Alonso and Judge were New York’s sluggers. The divide vanished and Mets and Yankees fans did not just tolerate each other but were united. United as baseball fans, united as New Yorkers and united as Americans. 

It is difficult to remember a time when the country was not split on every little thing. In the ballpark on a perfect Saturday night, however, we weren’t. The stands were a sea of Yankees jerseys and Mets jerseys, but it was not just a game. Mets fans won’t remember it as another painful one run loss in a disappointing season. Yankees fans won’t remember it as the game that finally ended a losing streak. They will remember the USA chants. They will remember two rival teams intermixed as they lined the diamond and stood for the national anthem.

The intention was not to forget, but to remember and heal just as it did 20 years ago. When the Mets played their first home game since the attack, Shea Stadium was filled with fear and pain just as the rest of the city and country was. It had been 10 days since 9/11 and New York was in shambles. The Mets had been losing for most of the game when Mike Piazza came up to bat in the 8th inning. With a swing of his bat, he hit one of the most iconic home runs in history. It gave the Mets the lead and it had healing powers. It signified that the city and country would be okay. New York would bounce back as the Mets did and like Piazza, the country had to keep holding on to faith. 

That mentality of resilience was present again in Citi Field. When the Mets fell 5 runs behind, a competitive game seemed out of the question. Then the Mets rallied and took a 6-5 lead in the sixth. The Mets reminded fans that no loss is too big to overcome as they came from behind. For the Yankees, blowing a 5 run lead was demoralizing for a team with 7 straight losses, but the Pinstripes took a 8-7 lead in the 8th inning to win the game. The Yankees reminded fans that they have to keep fighting no matter how tough it gets. Mets and Yankees fans alike felt the power of the night and were left smiling. 

From the first responder caps to the New York on each player’s chest, the Mets and Yankees paid tribute to 9/11 in a truly elegant and dignified way. The teams embodied the strong and unwavering American spirit that got the country through the tragedies. They paid tribute to those that should still be here. This game was about remembering and honoring, not forgetting. Baseball restored pride, strength and unity, allowing for people to come together as they did in the days following September 11th.