MLB: One Sunday Night That Brought America Together
There are arguably two moments in the past decade where every American will remember for the rest of their lives.
The first came nearly ten years ago on September 11th, 2011.
The second came with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning in a fairly meaningless April matchup between the New York Mets and the Philadelphia Phillies.
The score was tied 1-1 and Phillies reliever Ryan Madson was on the mound, facing Mets pinch-hitter Daniel Murphy. There were runners on first and second and Murphy had a chance to put his team up and give them a win against a hated division rival. With two outs, Madson delivered the pitch.
Very few remember that next pitch,or the eventual outcome of the game.
It was at that very instant that it was announced at the ballpark that a team of Navy SEALs had killed Osama Bin Laden after a ten-year worldwide search.
Suddenly, Citizens Bank Park wasn't filled with Mets fans and Phillies fans. It was filled with Americans.
Almost as fast as the news broke, chants of "U-S-A! U-S-A!" broke out at the ballpark. Fans were seen texting friends and family about the news and scrambling to find news online on smartphones. People were rejoicing in the conclusion of a long manhunt and players on the field were even taken aback at what was happening.
Even veteran broadcasters in the booth couldn't believe what they were experiencing.
ESPN announcer Bobby Valentine was perhaps most affected. Valentine was the manager of the New York Mets in 2001, when the Mets played the first game in New York City after the attacks of 9/11.
“It was pretty amazing,” Valentine said Monday in an interview with the New York Times. “That game on Sept. 21, 2001, was the first time that many people came together in one place in New York, and last night it was probably the most people that were assembled in one place when the announcement was made that they killed Bin Laden. And the Mets were playing again. I don’t know what you would call it, but it is amazing.”
It's fitting that this news came across the wires during a baseball game. An event that will arguably go down as one of the greatest days in American history broke while much of the country was tuned into America's pastime, but baseball isn't the only sport affected by the news.
Former Arizona Cardinals safety Pat Tillman left the team almost immediately after the attacks to deploy with the Army Rangers to Afghanistan to search for Bin Laden. He was killed in action by friendly fire, but will go down as a true American hero regardless of his numbers on the field.
It's no doubt that what happened Sunday in a city in Pakistan will go down as a great American victory in the War on Terror. Over all the sports superstars and movie stars in Hollywood, the heroes that brought Bin Laden to justice will remain silent in name, but not in action. The recognition they received at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia on Sunday, May 1, 2011 is proof of that.
By the way, the Mets won the game 2-1 in 14 innings. It's safe to say, though, that this momentous event put a baseball game into perspective and showed it for what it really was–a game.
The fans...rather, the Americans in Philadelphia certainly showed that Sunday night.
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