President Bush 2001 World Series First Pitch Remains Significant

2001 World Series First Pitch
NEW YORK, UNITED STATES: US President George W. Bush throws the ceremonial first pitch of Game 3 of the World Series in New York's Yankee Stadium 30 October, 2001. The Arizona Diamondbacks lead the New York Yankees 2-0 in the series. AFP PHOTO/Timothy A. CLARY (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)

President Bush 2001 World Series First Pitch Remains Significant

October 30, 2001

Night falls onto baseball’s Coliseum. There was a crispness in the air. Autumn was in full swing. Raucous New York fans filled the seats at Yankee Stadium, fervent for a victorious night on the diamond. The World Series has been an amphitheater for drama and history for generations. Down two games to none to the Arizona Diamondbacks, the New York Yankees anticipated a much-needed win in front of the raucous crowds.

As the 55,000 in attendance stood up, it was more than just for the National Anthem. Longtime public address announcer Bob Sheppard broadcasted in his esteemed expression, “Please turn your attention to the mound and welcome the President of the United States, George W. Bush.”

The crowd’s applause turned to cheers. The cheers turned to deafening screams. President Bush smiled graciously, waved to the crowd and walked to the center of the mound. The honouree often stands closer to home plate to avoid embarrassment making the pitch.

But President Bush was no ordinary prominent figure. He is the only President to have played Little League baseball. So throwing a pitch from the mound was customary and familiar, a sacred tradition taught in youth years when playing catch became a familiar pastime.

“It was the most nervous I had ever been,” President Bush stated. “It was the most nervous moment of my entire presidency.”

Sporting an FDNY jacket, President Bush threw a perfect strike in his ceremonial first pitch to Yankees backup catcher Todd Greene. The crowds began thunderously chanting “USA.” They were standing together unified. It was a ceremonial first pitch that conveyed a message of coming together in the midst of the country’s darkest days.

September 11, 2001 

Evil came to America 17 years ago, on that clear sunny day in New York City. One moment, the twin towers of the World Trade Center stood tall amidst the backdrop of the Manhattan skyline. The next moment, the buildings would be crumbled into rubble.
“Just imagine Manhattan with no cars. Just people walking the streets. It was like it was a movie set,” former Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter said.
2,996 people were killed. An additional 6,000 or more injured. Many of the first responders to the World Trade Center perished, risking their lives to help others. As the days followed, the news cycle would be wall to wall coverage of rebuilding America post 9/11. Grief and sorrow still lingered throughout the communities of America. These deaths were people who had names, who lived great lives. They left behind grieving families, searching for a path to alleviate the pain of losing a loved one.

October 30, 2001

America would be a country changed forever. But it would be the innate principles and values that embody the nation never vanish at the core of adversity. Sports have always provided that avenue for people from all walks of life to come together and support their team. While always evolving over the years, the sport of baseball in America has remained timeless, etched into the beating pulse of American culture for generations.

Baseball, like life, is a marathon. Filled with ebbs and flows, Americans can always relate to baseball as a symbol of no matter how stacked up the odds are against you, there always is that endearing hope of victory. The baseball gods could not have produced a better script, as the 95-win New York Yankees advanced to the World Series for their fourth consecutive season. While life in America would never be the same, New Yorkers were compelled to escape their present sorrows and come to support their Yankees on the precipice of baseball history.

Before President Bush walked out to throw his symbolic first pitch, Derek Jeter told him not to bounce it. With politics faded in the background, President Bush’s ball never came close to touching the ground. He gave a thumbs up to the deafening crowd, a signal that after 49 days since 9/11, America would persevere through these troubling times.

“That pitch wasn’t going to bounce. I don’t think it was capable of bouncing. Maybe it was Yankee magic. All the ballplayers always talk about it. I hope it was. I hope my childhood heroes played a part,” said Nick Trotta, a former U.S. Secret Service agent who was with Bush that night.

September 11, 2018

17 years later, America and the world continue to honor those who left us on that traumatic day.

The political climate of America has never been more divided. From gun violence to natural disasters, tragedy has continued to strike America in the years since 9/11. But the one constant has always been sports to lift our spirits when we are at our lowest lows. It is athletes who have the privilege of using their platform to help heal communities who are suffering from tragedies. After his World Series win, Houston Astros Jose Altuve helped the city of Houston in the communities most severely affected by Hurricane Harvey.

“They are the biggest reason why we went out every single day,” Altuve said of the fans.

September 11th, 2001 will be a date that will live on in infamy amongst Americans. Americans rallied behind the bravery and sacrifice of the first responders who risked their lives to protect America’s freedom post 9/11. We stood by the families of those who lost a loved one in the horrific attacks. And for one special October night at Yankee Stadium, America stood behind its President, who threw out the ceremonial first pitch at the World Series, capturing the essence of the American identity. Tragedy will strike again, adversity will test the psyche of America. Through the national pastime of baseball, it can be conquered and the nation can heal.

“If you’re going to throw out a pitch during a World Series with the Yankees at this point in history there’s only one place to go – Yankee Stadium,” Bush said adamantly.

For three nights in the Bronx, Americans could escape and remember the quintessential attributes that make America so great in the midst of a national crisis.

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