New York area natives and former Major League Baseball players Mark DeRosa (Carlstadt, NJ), John Franco (Brooklyn), Steve Karsay (Queens), Al Leiter (Toms River, NJ), Dave Martinez (Manhattan) and Jason Marquis (Staten Island) will commemorate the 20-year anniversary of September 11, 2001 in Remembering the Game for New York, a new MLB Network Presents program set to premiere on Thursday, September 9 at 10 p.m. ET and again Saturday, Sept. 11 at 1 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. ET. As New York and New Jersey natives, the six players will relive participating in the memorable and emotional Sept. 21, 2001 game between the Atlanta Braves and New York Mets at Shea Stadium, which marked the first sporting event and Major League Baseball game held in New York following the terrorist attacks. Leiter says on the program, “Being local and having grown up fans of the respective baseball teams, and then to experience what we experienced that night as far as what it meant to New York City, this was very personal.” With the Freedom Tower in the background, a clip from Remembering the Game for New York featuring raw commentary from Karsay and the others about Mets’ catcher Mike Piazza’s famous go-ahead home run in the eighth inning can be viewed here. Following the debut of Remembering the Game for New York on Sept. 9, MLB Network will re-air the Sept. 21, 2001 game.
Former Braves DeRosa, Karsay, Martinez and Marquis along with former Mets Franco and Leiter discuss growing up in the New York area and their connections to Sept. 11, 2001. Each describes where they were when the first plane struck the North Tower, which included Leiter being in New York City to see his daughter off to school before a planned start in Pittsburgh that evening. Franco, the Mets’ captain at the time, recalls returning to New York, “As soon as we got to the George Washington Bridge, everybody on the left side of the bus came over to the right side of the bus, and you could see the smoke and the spotlights down at Ground Zero and the bus [went] silent. From the George Washington Bridge to Shea Stadium, nobody said a word.”
The group discusses each aspect of the Sept. 21, 2001 game, including the emotional pregame ceremony that culminated with the Mets and Braves heartfelt embrace on the field. As the starter for the Braves that night, Marquis describes feeling a “combination of celebration and grief,” especially with his connection to a former Little League teammate and friend Michael Cammarata, a firefighter from Ladder Company 11, who died on Sept. 11, 2001. The feeling throughout that the Mets were destined to win that night is discussed, as is each of their memories of Piazza’s home run. Walking throughout the streets of College Point, Queens where he grew up, Karsay tells DeRosa of that fateful pitch to Piazza, “It happened. It’s part of the journey and at the end [of the] day if that small piece or that home run helped a city unite. …I never want to lose a game, but if there was one that we were going to lose, that might have been it.”
DeRosa was so profoundly impacted by the game’s festivities that he remarks on the program, “It was the only game I ever played in my life, from the time I was like nine-years old, I can remember that I didn’t mind losing.” Standing where home plate used to be in Shea Stadium, Martinez says, “Each year this time of year, it’s the one thing that stands out the most, that 2001, 9/11 happened and we were the first ones to come back here and play in that game. We’ll never forget that moment. Never.”
MLB Network will complement Remembering the Game for New York with additional content across its social media platforms, including behind-the-scenes photos and moments from the production shoot with DeRosa, Franco, Leiter and Marquis. Launched in 2015, the MLB Network Presents series has produced programs covering many subjects across baseball, including Tatis: The Rise of El Niño , Junior, The Story of Billy Bean, Bench, Eck: A Story of Saving, Only in Hollywood, Mr. Padre, Billy, The Swingin' A's, Mike Trout: Millville to MVP and The Bird. MLB Network programming is available for live, authenticated steaming via the MLB app and MLBNetwork.com.