Texas Rangers third base coach Gary Pettis still has vivid memories of that day 12 years ago, when two hijacked jets were flown into the World Trade Center towers.
Back then, Pettis was a coach for the Chicago White Sox, who had arrived in town only a few hours earlier for a scheduled game that night against the New York Yankees.
“You could smell the smoke. It wasn’t a good feeling that day,” Pettis said Wednesday before a home game against the Pittsburgh Pirates. “It’s so sad that so many people lost their lives, and it’s ruined other peoples’ lives. ... It’s like it was a movie, it’s like that wasn’t something that actually happened. I still can’t believe it.”
What he does believe is the importance for Major League Baseball — and all Americans — to take a moment to remember Sept. 11.
Players, coaches and umpires wore American flag patches embroidered on the side of their caps in commemoration of the tragedy. Special lineup cards were used, and patriotic on-field tributes were planned for the day’s 15 games, involving all 30 teams. Flags were half-staff, and there were moments of silence across baseball.
There were impromptu remembrances, too.
In New York, art students made a chalk drawing in blue and orange on the sidewalk outside Citi Field, showing the Twin Towers, the Mets logo and the words “Never Forget.”
New York Mets manager Terry Collins wore an NYPD hat and his players wore caps representing other first responders during batting practice before hosting Washington.
“You’ll always remember how you felt on 9/11,” Collins said.
With so many tributes planned at the stadium, a memo was written on a board in the Nationals’ clubhouse — “Note: Everyone on the field @ 6:55.”
Both dugouts were filled with applauding players, managers and coaches as members of rescue and security organizations marched onto the field. The Mets and Nationals then lined up along the baselines for a moment of silence and the national anthem.