“There’s a reason every country has sports that it loves. They embody the national spirit and the national pride. They rally around these sports figures. And at times of national trauma, we don’t rally around them to enjoy. We rally around them to remember who we are.” – Condoleezza Rice, former Secretary of State, in an interview with ESPN.
As I reflect and remember all those brave and innocent people our country lost 18 years ago on Sept. 11, 2001, I’m thinking of baseball. Not the Astros or any specific team really. Just what the game did for our country in the wake of devastation.
I was 7 years old. I didn’t know what was going on. I just remember coming home from school and seeing the pure shock on my mother’s face. Then, I found out baseball games had been postponed — every baseball game. As a 7-year-old who simply loved baseball, I think that hurt me the most because, while I couldn’t understand the act of terror that had hit our country, I could understand baseball. Its simplicity makes it easy to love and understand.
I frequently watch the ESPN piece on President George W. Bush throwing out the first pitch before game three of the 2001 World Series, two months after the attacks of 9/11.
Bush, MLB Commissioner Bud Selig and so many others knew the country and New York needed its national pastime. That’s why they resumed play six days after the attacks
So, back to the World Series. Bush took the first pitch seriously and threw a dart from the mound. The wounds that eventually turned into massive scars began to heal.
Now, 25 years old, I understand the point Ms. Rice made in that quote.
Baseball has always been there for America and her people. The sport will continue to do that.
From World War II to Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier to Bobby Thomson’s walk-off HR to decide the 1951 NL Pennant against the rival Dodgers to Hank Aaron breaking Babe Ruth’s home run record to the Astros winning the 2017 World Series after Harvey nearly leveled the Texas coastline, baseball has been a way of healing for individuals, communities and this country as a whole.
So, as we continue to mourn the sons, daughters, mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, husbands and wives that we lost that day, find solace in that simple game that has healed us time and time again.