On September 21, 2001, Mike Piazza hit a home run to help give the Mets a 3-2 win over the Braves. This might sound unremarkable until you remember it was also the Mets’ first game at home after the 9/11 attacks, and that Piazza’s homer was just what the home crowd needed to release a whole lot of pent-up energy. (See it here.) That home run remains a defining moment in Piazza’s great career, so it shouldn’t be any surprise that when Piazza looks back on it now, he’s a little overwhelmed.
Piazza was at last night’s Mets-Cubs game at Citi Field to help commemorate 9/11’s 10th anniversary, along with several former Mets teammates (Piazza caught the game’s ceremonial first pitch from former closer John Franco). Piazza talked about his home run along with ESPN’s Bob Ley and Bobby Valentine (who was, of course, the Mets’ manager at the time), and when recalling what it all meant, he couldn’t hold back his emotions:
One thing that struck us about Piazza’s reflections: the acknowledgment that the players weren’t even sure they should play that night, or even could. Mostly, we remember displays of great strength and unity post-9/11, the importance of getting back to our normal lives. Piazza’s comments were a reminder of how hard that could be to do. That night, though, Piazza found a way, and that memory remains powerful today…for Piazza and a whole lot of others.