A little more than a decade ago, horrific terrorist attacks left residents of New York City numb, looking for a reason to start healing, a way to move forward, a reminder of life the way it was. For a brief moment, Mike Piazza provided it.
The Miami resident, whose emotional game-winning home run for the New York Mets 10 days after the 9-11 attacks is now part of Big Apple legend, said Tuesday that he has the city of Boston in his prayers.
“My heart goes out to the victims. I was shocked and obviously felt so much sadness [for] the people that passed away and that were injured,” Piazza said. “Unfortunately we live in a day and age where we can’t take our freedom for granted.”
Speaking at Miami City Ballet studios on Miami Beach Tuesday afternoon during a break from rehearsals for an upcoming appearance with MCB, Piazza said the Boston Marathon explosions “ripped the scab off” an old wound for the nation.
On Sept. 21, 2001, in the first major sporting event in New York City since the destruction of the Twin Towers, Piazza strode to the plate in a gloomy Shea Stadium with the Mets trailing the arch-rival Atlanta Braves 2-1 in the bottom of the eighth inning. Mets fans got their miracle when Piazza hit an 0-1 fastball to the deepest part of the park, a two-run home run that felt like so much more.
There was euphoria, catharsis and a reminder of the city’s famous resiliency. Life was going on.
Piazza still gets reminded of the scene’s impact on people.
“Every time I get back to New York, anywhere I go, even here just walking on the street, people do say that moment at least helped them try to turn the page a little bit and give them a little bit of a positive in an otherwise dark week,” he said. “To be remembered for one home run, if that’s the home run, it’s definitely an honor .”
Piazza said he attended 10th anniversary ceremonies in New York (pictured) and he and his former teammates still find it hard to put 9-11 into any kind of perspective.
“You’ll never be able to rationalize that sort of despair and unfortunate horror,” he said. “But at the end of the day you have to somehow find a way to move on.”
If you go: Mike Piazza will make a cameo appearance with Miami City Ballet on May 3. Info: MiamiCityBallet.org.
Photo: Getty Images