Playing a game on the anniversary of one of the nation’s biggest tragedies brings back memories for Texas Rangers players.
September 11 marks a day that people will never forget.
“It’s one of those moments forever that people always remember where they were and what was going on in their life,” Ranger catcher A.J. Pierzynski said.
Pierzynski was a member of the Minnesota Twins on Sept. 11, 2001. The Twins were set to play the Tigers that night.
“I just remember getting a call from my wife saying ‘you need to turn on the TV’,” Pierzynski said. “It was hard to comprehend what was going on. It was horrible,” he said.”
Manager Ron Washington recalled a very specific activity from the morning of 9-11. The then-coach for the Oakland Athletics was going to get his truck serviced when his wife called.
“I believe I had the Isley Brothers jamming at the time,” Washington said.
The A’s were in the middle of a home series with the Texas Rangers.
Pierzynski is one of two Rangers who were in the major leagues when the tragedy occurred twelve years ago today. Designated hitter Lance Berkman was also playing in the majors at the time, as a third-year player with the Astros.
Nathan had played two years in the majors, and spent 2001 in the minor leagues. The 35-year-old said he was on his way to work out in Arizona when he heard the news.
Today, though, twelve years removed from that devastating day in history, many Rangers were not playing professional baseball yet. Thirty of the 40 players on the Rangers’ 40-man roster were under the age of 20 when the tragedy struck.
Mitch Moreland said he was in high school drama class when he found out about the plane crashes.
“Our teacher liked watching the news. We didn’t have it on, but when we found out, everyone rushed in [to watch], and I remember the teachers crying. It was a sad day,” Moreland said.
Nathan joked that Rangers starter Derek Holland was on his way to kindergarten in 2001. Holland was actually 14 years old at the time.
Jurickson Profar was only eight years old and still living in Curacao at the time.
Major League Baseball was cancelled for a week after the 2001 tragedy. Washington, who played for 10 years and was in his sixth year of coaching, said baseball was a needed distraction at the time.
“We gave people a release. Not that you would ever forget what happened or not think about what happened and remember the families,” he said.
Pierzynski said it was a difficult time, and no one knew what to expect coming back and playing baseball. But he said baseball helped people heal.
“Being the first sport back and to be playing was special,” Pierzynski said, recalling the first game in New York after the tragedy.
In the first post-9-11 sporting event in the Big Apple, Mike Piazza hit a go-ahead eighth-inning home run to propel the New York Mets to a victory over the Atlanta Braves in dramatic fashion.
Washington said he is reminded of the events of 9-11 today, twelve years later.
“What happened [Sept. 11, 2001] crosses your mind, and you take a moment to think about all the people that lost their lives, and all the damage that was done,” he said.
But, with a September game at hand, Washington said that, in the business he’s in, he and his team must focus on the task at hand. And what’s at hand is the third game of a three-game set with the Pittsburgh Pirates.
The Rangers have lost eight of their last 11 games, and find themselves two games back in the AL West. Moreland said the morale hasn’t changed, and today’s game counts the same as every other.
“It’s a long season, we play 162 games,” Moreland said. “We’re not done. We’re going to go out and play nine innings like we know how.”
The Rangers are 8-2 in Sept. 11 games since 2001.