Baseball has long been hailed as the most iconic ‘All-American’ sport. This was never more apparent than a moment nearly twenty years ago when fans packed Yankee Stadium just weeks after the devastating 9/11 attacks. Joining them for the moving moment was our nation’s president, George W. Bush, throwing the first pitch of the third game in the 2001 World Series.
As we come together to remember the tragedy of September 11, 2001, we are full of memories of tragedy and feelings of despair. We honor the lives lost as the nation came to grips with the worst terrorist attack our nation had ever experienced. Sometimes it’s hard to remember that with the devastation 9/11 brought us, some hope was born.
As we mourned what we lost, we came together in ways that drew us closer as a country. Giving the nation hope, even in the darkest hours.
We, as a nation, saw this hope begin to return as fans returned to New York’s beloved Yankee Stadium on October 30, 2001.
A Nation Forever Changed After 9/11
Just seven short weeks after our world changed forever, the New York Yankees and the Arizona Diamondbacks took the field as they came head to head in the third game of the 2001 World Series.
After weeks of grief and hopelessness, a tiny bit of optimism was beginning to return. The once lost hope we shared as a nation was beginning to find its way back into our lives during that chilly October evening.
The President had been asked to throw the first pitch for Game one of the World Series that year. However, he declined. Waiting instead, for the moment he could take the mound at Yankee Stadium.
The crowd was cheering, in what would admittedly be very likely one of the first widespread exciting moments the city – or even the country – had felt since the 9/11 attacks. The president stepped up and delivered a perfect pitch. Right over home plate.
A Pitch That Unites a Nation
“I had never had such an adrenaline rush as when I finally made it to the mound,” President George W. Bush told MLB.com of the now-iconic moment.
“I was saying to the crowd, ‘I’m with you, the country’s with you,'” the president continued. “And I wound up and fired the pitch.”
And what a pitch it was. America’s 43rd president certainly did fire the symbolic pitch, a perfect strike over home plate.
People were unsure how the country would react to the moving moment. It had been less than two months since the nation collectively felt the tragedy of 9/11. The loss was still new, and the feelings were all too fresh.
However, the ceremonial pitch ended up becoming one of our nation’s brightest moments. Even now; almost twenty years later.
“I’ve been to conventions and rallies and speeches,” George W. Bush said of the moment.
“I’ve never felt anything so powerful and emotions so strong,” said the president. “And the collective will of the crowd so evident.”
This moment was just the second time in our nation’s history that a sitting president threw out the first pitch for a World Series game. President Eisenhower threw the first pitch to start off the season in 1956 in a matchup between the New York Yankees and Washington Senators.