Photo credit: STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images

White Sox Manager Robin Ventura recounts his 9/11 experience

Guess who’s back?  Back again…. Colleen’s back….tell a friend!

While I’m very happy to return to SDI as their White Sox blogger, here it’s with mixed emotions that my first blog is on this day.  On September 11th 2001, pharm I was in my final semester at Eastern Illinois University working for WEIU-TV, sale probably planning on covering a small town story in the Charleston-Mattoon area when everything stood still on our small campus and the world watched the television in disbelief at what was happening to our great country.

I thought it would be a little bit of a #FlashbackFriday moment for me to chat with personnel from the White Sox to hear their experiences on September 11, 2001.  With the help of a few great people at the White Sox organization I was able to have a phone interview with White Sox Manger Robin Ventura to recall his experience during the attacks and afterwards.

Ground Zero on 9/11/01 Photo By: www.upi.com

What was your experience like on 9/11/01?

During the 2001 season, Ventura was playing for the New York Mets and was on the road in Pittsburgh to play the Pirates that Tuesday evening.  When he woke up in the morning and turned on The Today Show, Ventura and other Mets players saw the attacks and were shocked.  The Mets players immediately gathered in the lobby to leave the hotel and get on buses to New York.  When they came over the bridge from New Jersey to New York, they could see the smoke from lower Manhattan and Ventura recalled the smell in the air from the devastation that took place at ground zero.

The MLB response to the attacks

Being a Tuesday, the MLB had a full roster of games to be played by all teams.  Right after the attacks, the MLB Commissioner Bud Selig canceled baseball for the evening, and eventually for the week.  I asked Robin what they did during that week.  He told me that Shea Stadium was turned into a staging ground for relief personnel and equipment.  Many firefighters, emergency personnel and other volunteers came to Shea to help build relief packages.  He remembers having one practice and hitting around once, but most of the time the players were sent out around town for moral support to lift the spirits of New Yorkers.  He remembers watching the news often, as everyone did, anxiously awaiting news of survivors from the attacks, which sadly never came.

Shea Stadium Scoreboard Photo by: USA Today

Returning to normalcy, if possible

On Monday, September 17th the Mets returned to Pittsburgh to play the series that was postponed.  This was the first game back for the team and a very emotional day for the players.  The Mets ended up beating the Pirates that day 4-1, which started them on a winning streaking heading home to New York.  September 21st was the team’s first game back at Shea Stadium against the Atlanta Braves and in front of all their fans.  This pregame video from 9/21/2001 encapsulates the mood of the evening.

Robin remembers the bagpipers and the emotion that the game had as it was the first sporting event to return back to New York after the attacks. The Mets went on to beat the Braves that evening 3-2.

I asked him if he could recall any one thing that stood out most for him.  He said that he remembers during the Mets home games there were kids who would attend the game who’d lost parents during the 9/11 attacks.  He stated that watching the kids was really tough on the players and the organization.

In a press release yesterday, Major League Baseball announced that there will be a league-wide commemoration of September 11, 2001 with tributes at all Major League games on Friday, September 11, 2015. This remembrance is part of Baseball’s ongoing effort to honor those whose lives were lost and affected on that tragic day.

On-field personnel, including players, coaches and umpires, will wear caps with a side patch of an American flag during games. All MLB proceeds from sales of these caps will be donated to the 9/11 Memorial and Museum, the Pentagon Memorial and the Flight 93 Memorial.  Home clubs will mark the date with pre-game ceremonies, including a moment of silence, and the “We Shall Not Forget” MLB silhouetted batter ribbon will be displayed throughout ballparks. Additionally, special lineup cards and base jewels will be used for every game played.

The Toronto Blue Jays will wear customized caps recognizing both the United States and Canada for their game in New York against the Yankees on MLB Network Showcase at 7:00 p.m. ET. MLB Network will also feature coverage of the day’s events across MLB in its studio programming. MLB.com and MLBCommunity.org will provide complete coverage of the day’s ceremonies and perspectives through columns, news articles, multimedia and photos across the country.

According to Bob Beghtol, Sr. Director of Media Relations for the White Sox, On Friday, September 11th, the Warrior Watch Riders will participate in a pregame parade, riding the ballpark warning track on their motorcycles with American flags.  Members of the U.S. Armed Services will be recognized on field during a pregame ceremony and take the field to meet White Sox players at their positions.

As I sit here reflecting on the conversation I had this evening with Robin, I’m reminded of the human side of the players and managers we watch on TV and from the stands.  Sure, there are days when I want to throw the remote through the TV in anger at the choices Robin makes while managing my White Sox or sit and stew over the fact that the Cubs may have a good shot at the playoffs (which will no doubt anger me further when their games are on ABC interrupting my #ShondaThursdays this fall).  But for today, one day, we all come together as Americans to remember the lives lost on 9/11 as well as the great unity and resilience that brought neighbors together in solidarity for their country.

Category: MLB, White Sox

About the author: Colleen Reaney. White Sox Correspondent. Colleen is a true southside girl at heart. This Irish-catholic lass was born and raised in the Chicagoland area and has a great passion for her beloved Chicago White Sox, Chicago Bears, Notre Dame Football and Illini Basketball. She has a BA from Eastern Illinois University, a MA from Governors State University and is working on her doctorate in higher education.  Colleen balances her time between working and teaching in higher education and her young family in Mt. Greenwood.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Michael McMahon

    Great story, I’m afraid he won’t be the manager next year.

  • Peggy Fashing

    That was a great article –

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