9/11 Stories: Bobby Valentine

1996-2002 Mets Manager Bobby Valentine and his team were in Pittsburgh to begin a three-game series and had just returned to their downtown hotel from a workout. Bobby went up to his room. His wife had traveled with him to Pittsburgh, as did many of the other team wive. In his hotel room, Valentine watched the tv in disbelief as a plane hit the first tower. When a second plane hit the second tower, Valentine immediately phoned the team’s travel secretary and public relations director, trying to determine if they were safe in downtown Pittsburgh. From his hotel window, Valentine saw a line of black sedans outside the building directly across the street. That building housed the FBI headquarters. Fearing the area could be targeted, they made the decision to leave for a hotel outside the city, which they hoped would be safer. Quickly packing up, the team boarded buses meant to take them to the ballpark, which instead took them to a suburban hotel. It was only there that they learned of the attack on the Pentagon and the plane that was brought down in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. The team was confused and fearful and decided they would each go back to their hotel rooms to rest. Later that night, they gathered together again and boarded buses taking them home to Shea stadium, with the six-hour trip ending around 3 AM. 

Major League Baseball resumed its season on September 17th.  The Mets flew in a charter flight to Pittsburgh, but Bobby flew on a commercial flight to make a statement and set an example to show it was safe to fly. He was one of only 5 people on the flight. The Mets swept the 3 games in Pittsburgh. Soon after, President Bush, New York Governor George Pataki, and MLB Commissioner Bud Selig collaborated in the decision to resume play in New York on September 21st. The Mets were the first pro team to play in the city after 9/11. Valentine remembers the first-place Braves had to be convinced to return to New York. With more than 41-thousand fans in the stands, the game was tied in the 8th when Mets catcher Mike Piazza homered for the win. The crowd erupted “USA USA USA!! New York was back.