Fifteen years ago to this day, Mike Piazza helped not only his baseball team, and not only his city, but the entire United States, when he hit a go-ahead 8th inning home run at Shea Stadium, in the first professional baseball game played in New York after 9/11. Baseball is nothing more than a game in the grand scheme of life, but what this simple game allowed Mike Piazza do was help lift an entire nation, who in every way possible, needed to be lifted.
On September 11th, 2001 the largest terrorist attack on US soil was carried out, taking down the Twin Towers and claiming almost 3,000 American lives. Our country had never experienced an attack of that magnitude, and Americans from coast to coast felt it's impact. After the attacks, Americans, and specifically New Yorkers, needed something to go right; we needed hope, we needed joy, we needed a win. What Mike Piazza was able to deliver, was all of that wrapped up in one, 8th inning swing, that changed New York forever.
September 21st, 2001 marked the first day that baseball would once again be played in New York, and the New York Mets took on the Atlanta Braves, under the bright lights of Shea Stadium. The Braves led 2-1, with 1 man on, and 1 out, as Mike Piazza dug into the box, facing Steve Karsay. With a 0-1 count, Mike Piazza took a fastball over the middle deep to center, giving the Met's a 3-2 lead, and getting all of New York onto their feet, hands in the air, cheering. Thousands of Met fans across New York, across the country, were cheering - an emotion that they had not felt since that dreadful morning, just 10 days earlier.
No one knew if the timing was right. No one knew if they had chosen to come back too soon. But when the night ended, and the lights turned out at Shea, everyone knew; we would survive, and we would come back stronger than ever. I salute you Mike Piazza, and thank you for everything you've done for New York and the people who risk their lives every day, the FDNY and NYPD, along with the Armed Forces defending our freedom overseas. As the son of FDNY firefighter, and a true New Yorker, I am aware of how deeply this city and the people of it were impacted by 9/11, and while there was and never will be anything that can erase the pain and fix what happened, one simple game-winning homerun, gave an entire city - better yet country, a glimmer of hope, in their darkest of days.