By: Michael Ganci

I Was There: Piazza and the Post-9/11 Home Run

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I remember it like it was yesterday.

I was in math class at my high school when the announcement blared over the loud speakers. The Twin Towers had been struck by planes, and they collapsed. It took a little while for a ninth-grade class to grasp the concept of what just happened. But shortly thereafter, there was never a silence more deafening than when we all had realized what truly happened.

In my high school, Wellington C. Mepham in North Bellmore, it was ironically “Twin Day” and two boys dressed up as the Twin Towers. After the planes struck, they were instructed to change, and rightfully so. We spent the rest of the day sitting in silence during each class at students and teachers alike checked on loved ones, and education didn’t seem to matter for a day. Despite classes taking a break, we surely learned a lot.

When I got home, I was glued to the television. Thankfully, my father, who worked in Queens, was fine. I didn’t know anyone especially close to me who worked near Ground Zero. When the word terrorism started getting tossed around, I couldn’t understand why people would do such a thing on purpose, but we later found out that it was in fact the truth.

The next few days were painful for New York, and American flags began sprouting up everywhere. It’s unfortunate that it took a tragedy to bring people together, but that’s what happened. It so happened, as well, that my father and I had tickets to see the Mets play the Atlanta Braves on Sept. 21, 2001, 10 days after the attacks. We would be informed that it was the first major sporting event to take place, although many thought it wasn’t exactly appropriate.

I’ll be honest, I was nervous. The wounds were still fresh, and we were packing 40,000 people into Shea Stadium. There were snipers on the roof, increased security and an uneasiness in the crowd of people who were just looking for an escape, at least for one night.

The game itself was almost a backdrop, as many dignitaries made appearances, including Rudy Giuliani, Diana Ross, Liza Minneli and Marc Anthony. The Mets were trailing late, but with a runner on, their best hitter Mike Piazza was at the plate. With one swing, I won’t say he lifted the city on his shoulders, but he gave everyone in the stadium a reason to smile and cheer…and that was invaluable.

Chipper Jones, who always played his best in Queens, said this was the first time he wasn’t upset to lose a baseball game. He also took out a full-page ad in support of New York, showing that he’s always been a true class act.

But, as for Piazza, and the swing, it is something I will truly never forget, and the night itself may have been the most emotionally draining sporting event I have ever experience.

We will never forget….Enjoy a clip of Piazza’s historic homer below.

About Michael Ganci

Michael Ganci is the Co-Founder of the Daily Stache, along with Matthew Falkenbury. Since 2008, Ganci has eat, drank and dreamt all things Mets, and he'd have it no other way. Feel free to follow him on Twitter at @DailyStache.

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