When the Game Stood Still

September 11, 2001 started out like any other day.  It was supposed to play out like any other late summer Tuesday, and should have been one of those days that blend into every other.  Sixteen years on it should be unremarkable and not long remembered.

What I recall from that day was the weather.  It was a glorious, clear blue sky, with comfortable temperatures, which in Maryland where I lived at the time, was always a nice respite from the usually hot, humid summer weather.  I had also just started a new job, and it was my second full week, having started on the previous Tuesday, the day after Labor Day.  My new colleagues had planned a welcome lunch for me that afternoon.

By the time of our planned lunch, most of us were on our way home.  My colleagues with children were scrambling to coordinate picking up their kids from school. The highway on my short ride home to the Baltimore suburbs was eerily empty. There were no iPhones. There was no Twitter, Facebook, blogs, or social media.  The only way to stay connected to what was playing out in New York, Washington, and Pennsylvania was listening to the radio, and watching CNN. No one really knew what was happening.  When I arrived home late that morning, my wife, who had taken the day off of work that day, had no idea what I was talking about when she asked why I was home early.  I watched the scenes play out on cable news, and watched images that have never been shown again since they were broadcast live.

From a sports perspective, I had a ticket to the Orioles game that night. I do not recall if I had purchased the ticket (splurging on box seats is not like me at all), who I went with, or any other detail about the lead up to the game.

What I do recall is the game was never played that night.

All of the major league games scheduled that night were canceled.  Commissioner Bud Selig soon canceled all of the games for the rest of that week.  It is hard to describe for those of you that were too young, or not yet born, that nothing else in life mattered during those terrible days.

My ticket for September 11th was honored for the first game back when the MLB schedule resumed on September 18th.  I do not recall who I went with, who won, or what the score was.  I do recall that Oriole Park at Camden Yards was mostly empty, because gathering in large crowds seemed like a bad idea.  I recall that we paid tribute to the first responders from the Pentagon in an on-field, pregame ceremony.  I recall that we were given small American flags. And I recall that I cried as though at a funeral with good reason, as the world as we had known it was gone forever.

Photo credit: Jason Phillips, September 11, 2001 ticket stub

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