NEW YORK, September 11 (Reuters) – Before he died in response to the September 11, 2001 attacks at the World Trade Center, Brian McAleese, a New York firefighter and father of four, often did his shopping at the Key Food supermarket in Brooklyn where Artie Bentley has worked for almost 40 years.
Twenty years later, Bentley wore Brian’s name on a baseball cap as he headed to Citi Field on Saturday to watch his New York Mets take on their crosstown rivals New York Yankees following a ceremony marking the ‘opportunity.
“He was just a very nice guy,” said Bentley, 62. “It’s a little therapeutic for me.”
With flags around the stadium floating at their waist, members of the city’s first responder agencies, as well as former Mets players who helped with the relief efforts, circled the pitch ahead of the game. Bobby Valentine and Joe Torre, who led the Mets and Yankees respectively in 2001, delivered the ceremonial first pitch.
Baseball offered a small measure of solace to a grieving city in 2001. On September 21 of that year, the Mets faced the Atlanta Braves at their former home ground, Shea Stadium, for the first major sporting event. of the city since the attacks, with President George W. Bush throwing the first pitch.
Late in the eighth inning, Mike Piazza, the Mets’ star wide receiver, hit a dramatic home run to propel New York to a win and give the crowd a moment of joy after days of devastation and sorrow.
“It was something,” said John Tully, 56, a retired New York City police officer who attended Saturday’s game wearing a shirt with the names of two police officers who died on September 11, including one friend, Ramon Suarez. “Sport has a way of doing it.”
As they did in 2001, many Mets and Yankees players wore baseball caps bearing the logos of the New York City Police and Fire Departments and other first responder agencies.
At the nearby US Open tennis tournament, the Arthur Ashe Stadium crowd observed a moment of silence and the cadets flew a giant American flag on center court ahead of the women’s championship game. The date “09/11/01” was written in white on one side of the rule.
Leylah Fernandez, the 19-year-old Canadian who lost to compatriot Emma Raducanu of Great Britain, hailed the city after the final.
“I know that day was especially tough for New York and everyone in the United States,” she told the crowd. “I just want to say that I hope I can be as strong and as resilient as New York has been for the past 20 years.”
Report by Joseph Ax; Editing by Daniel Wallis
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
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