I don't have many of my own personal memories of the first Phillies game at the Vet following the September 11th tragedies. I was living in an apartment with five other guys right outside of Boston in Brighton, Mass. just starting my junior year at B.C. Those were the days before Slingbox and sports blogs. You couldn't even stream 610 WIP on the Internet back then. I remember this because I used to email them begging them to throw a stream up on the 'net. So keeping in touch with the Philly sports world was extra challenging (and eventually some of my motivation for starting this here website). So all of my knowledge of the emotional day at the Vet when baseball returned comes second hand.
The one image that's imprinted in my mind is former Phillies Manager Larry Bowa tearing up during the pregame festivities. I remember thinking, "That's Larry Friggin' Bowa crying up there."
By all accounts it was an incredibly emotional day. And as we all saw this season at Citizens Bank Park after Osama bin Laden was killed, Philly can be quite the patriotic city.
The MLB Network is airing a number of vignettes over the weekend about baseball returning to the field post 9/11. One of them features Larry Bowa sharing his feelings on that day at the Vet. Here's an excerpt:
Larry Bowa: In Philadelphia, there were a lot of mixed emotions. Guys didn’t know
whether they should play and I was one of those guys. I said, “How do we
know when the time is right?” How do you know that you [can] say,
“Okay, let’s try to start this healing process.” It’s easy for us to say
that because a lot of us weren’t involved in what happened here in New
York. What about the people that lost their mom, their dads? You know, I
didn’t know if it was the right time. As a manager, I didn’t care if we
won or lost that night, but the fact that we would start a healing
process with something that you say, “Maybe that might help out.”
As the game unfolded, people started to get involved a little bit. I remember Scott Rolen
hitting two home runs that game. [The] second one, the fans were going
crazy and Scottie is very professional, he does not like to show up the
other team. I said, “Scottie this is a special moment, I think you got
to go out and tip your hat and he did.” After the game, he said, “That
was a very special time.” I said all along that the biggest moment of my
life was winning the World Series, but that night to me was the
ultimate because I do think that we eased the pain a little bit. We
didn’t take it away, but I do know that I saw a lot of happy faces for
two hours and that’s something you never forget.
Feel free to share any memories you have from that day at the Vet if you were there. We'd love to hear them.