Yankees honor 9/11 heroes 20 years later

September 12th, 2021

NEW YORK -- Emotions were thick at Citi Field on Saturday as the Yankees and Mets participated in a pregame ceremony that remembered the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks 20 years later.

Joe Torre and Bobby Valentine -- the managers of the Yankees and Mets at that time, respectively -- reunited on the field for first pitches, helping to mark the first time that the Subway Series has overlapped with Sept. 11.

Both teams stood together for the national anthem as “one united New York,” wearing caps representing the first responders who were called to the World Trade Center on that day.

“Most of the players are old enough to remember where we were,” said Brett Gardner, the longest-tenured Yankees player, after the 8-7 win. “Baseball played a big part in the healing of this city and the country 20 years ago. I think that still resonates with us today.”

The Yanks’ Aaron Judge and the Mets’ Pete Alonso were among the players who commissioned special custom cleats for Saturday’s game.

Yankees manager Aaron Boone described having “an eerie feeling” driving to Citi Field on Saturday. Boone said that he hoped the teams would properly honor the first responders’ service and sacrifice. Boone said that the teams wanted to properly honor the first responders’ service and sacrifice.

“I think our players really felt the emotion of the day,” Boone said. “It was a beautiful night. It was a perfect night. … I think everyone in that [clubhouse] was honored to be a part of the evening.”

Numerous members of the 2001 Mets were present, including Mike Piazza, who hit a memorable go-ahead home run in a Sept. 21, 2001, game against the Braves at Shea Stadium -- the first professional sporting event in New York City following the attacks.

“As tough of a day it is and the memories that a day like this brings up, it was a fun game to be a part of,” Gardner said. “The pregame ceremonies were very well done, very tasteful. It was a great, great game to be a part of. I know it’s Sept. 11, but it definitely had the feel of a playoff game.”

Athletic position
Gary Sánchez misplayed a throw to home plate in the first inning of Friday’s 10-3 Yankees loss to the Mets, which sparked a discussion in the clubhouse after the game. Sánchez was not aggressive in attempting to tag runner Jonathan Villar, who slid under the tag despite a strong throw from left fielder Joey Gallo arriving well ahead of Villar.

“He certainly realized it was a mistake there,” Boone said. “It’s obviously a unique play; [Villar] is dead to rights and it’s a different game [now] in that you’re not as much bracing for a collision. But as a catcher, you’ve got to initiate a little bit and certainly make sure you stay athletic and low in your legs so that you can’t be caught off guard at all.

“I think he just felt like he had him out, and that [Villar] was pulling up to surrender. He ends up making a play and then he’s athletically out of position to do it like he needed to.”

Kyle Higashioka started behind the plate on Saturday.

Bombers bits
Sunday’s starter is still to be determined. Boone said that right-hander Clarke Schmidt, left-hander Andrew Heaney or a bullpen game are all up for discussion, depending on the team’s needs in Saturday’s game.

Gerrit Cole was scheduled to throw from the bullpen mound on Saturday at Citi Field. The Yankees are hopeful that the ace right-hander can return to the rotation on Tuesday at Baltimore.

This date in Yankees history
Sept. 11, 2009: Derek Jeter broke Lou Gehrig’s all-time franchise mark of 2,721 hits with a leadoff single off Chris Tillman in the third inning of a rain-delayed 7-3 loss to the Orioles at Yankee Stadium. Gehrig had held the mark since Sept. 6, 1937.