By Bruce Levine–
CHICAGO (CBS) — White Sox manager Robin Ventura was a member of the New York Mets on Sept. 11, 2011. The Mets were in Pittsburgh at the time and bused back to New York after the terrorist attacks on the Twin Towers crash and the Pentagon’s partial destruction.
“We had a players association meeting planned,” Ventura remembered Sunday on the 15-year anniversary. “We were getting coffee and you see what was unfolding on television. You just can’t believe it. You could not believe what your eyes were seeing. The next day, we bused back to Shea (Stadium). When we got there, we saw it was being used for a staging area for all the supplies going into Manhattan.”
Ventura saw first-hand how America and the people of New York came together quickly through proactive support and selflessness.
“The whole thing was right in front of us,” Ventura said. “It was incredible the cooperation and teamwork of everybody. Firefighters coming from all over the country to help out. To this day, it still gets to you, it really does.”
Baseball cancelled its schedule for five days. Ventura and his teammates worked out at Shea that weekend, then returned to Pittsburgh for the series that was cancelled the week before.
“Even when we were working out before we went back to Pittsburgh, you saw firefighters sleeping on cots at Shea,” Ventura said. “They were going on shifts back and forth to Manhattan. It wasn’t about us working out anymore. Whatever these guys needed or wanted to do, you let them do it. We helped organize and helped them pack boxes and just do whatever we could to help.”
Ventura and all of baseball did their best to entertain and be respectful of the city and country in the trying weeks ahead.
“When I hear bagpipes to this day, it is still different,” Ventura said. “I get emotional every time I hear them. That is all we pretty much heard through September. Our first game back in New York, when the bagpipe players came through center field, was a tough moment for everybody.”
The world and Ventura’s life changed forever that day.
“That is a time where you felt vulnerable,” Ventura said.”There was more than those three planes that went down. From that moment on, my kids life in America would be different than when I grew up. Just because of that.”
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.