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Saturday, September 10, 2011

REMEMBERING 9-11: CASEY'S TAKE

On September 10th I was on my way home with no children and my wife was on a business trip. I just picked up my tickets for what was to be just another game on September 11th. It was raining hard and I realized that Roger Clemens who was supposed pitch has his start moved to the 11th. I just got lucky. The next day at Yankee Stadium I was going to see history. Roger Clemens was going for his 20th win. I called my dad with the news. After all, this was the guy that got me interested in the Yankees and he was going with me to the game. I was psyched knowing very well the stadium was going to be electric. I couldn’t wait.

Coming into the city on September 11th, I was listening to Howard Stern. Who didn’t back then. As the bus was coming up to the turn toward the Weehawken field, we slowed down considerably. It was now a crawl. There was smoke coming from one of the towers and I just figured it was an office fire. Many of us did in fact, it was really the first time I remember having a conversation with patrons on the bus. As we made the turn and headed down toward the next bend, the second plane hit the second tower. My bus became a mutiny as no one wanted the driver to enter the tunnel. To be honest, my mind is still blank 10 years later. I do not remember anything but screaming and 1 woman with her hands on her cheeks in shock and tears filling up in her eyes. It was like slow motion. I still remember her face, yet, I couldn’t pick anyone else out of a lineup to this day of all the people on that bus.

I don’t remember being in the tunnel, I don’t even remember walking through the city, I just remember entering my job. The day was long and I was in shock. A very close friend of mine who was an EMT, a true hero in my eyes and he didn’t go to work that day, he went to the towers, to save people. Brave and heroic doesn’t begin to describe this guy enough and to this day, he still amazes me.

Needless to say September 11th was difficult for me and has been for years. I’ve never really every talked about it publicly, until now. As horrific as it was and when the world went in slow motion for the next 4 or 5 days, I didn’t want anything, except to be with my wife who had to travel by bus across the country to get home, and baseball.

Baseball was always an escape for me, and as a kid, I would throw a tennis ball against a wall and catch it in my Ron Guidry Wilson glove for hours. I watched baseball all the time and when I watched the Yankees, I’d line my baseball cards up in the order of the lineup. The point is, it was my happy place and as the world was crumbling around us all, I wanted baseball back. Everything else hurt way too much.

Seeing ceremony after ceremony was necessary but difficult and years later, I am still very anxious around September. Everyone lost someone that day and that image of the planes hitting the towers is something that I refuse to look at 10 years later on television or in pictures. Why should I, I replay it in my mind around this time every year. It follows me where ever I go.

When baseball resumed, I was happy again. I never went to see Roger Clemens win his 20th game, in fact, I held onto that ticket, because I couldn’t bare to part with it. The Yankees made it to the World Series that year as we all know and it was so clear to me, that the Yankees were going to win the World Series. Yes, Luis Gonzalez crushed New York City’s dreams that night in November and it was like a second punch to my stomach, but it was life. Life has challenges and life isn’t always fair. America was attacked and we lost the World Series, but to me, it was about loving thy neighbor at that moment. It really wasn’t about loss in that World Series, it was about love. I realized right then the life goes on, we need to pick up and keep going for the people who died on 9-11 and for everyone who lost someone that day. The Yankees had great moments and we almost won it, but the Diamondbacks were New Yorkers in that series, they just wanted to play a good game, a good World Series, but in my mind, they weren’t winning it just for themselves, they were winning it for all of us. It was a sign, we were in this together, baseball brought us all back together. We needed to now move forward.

For me, it took a long time, but it’s true, while we have to move on, we can’t and won’t ever forget that day. It brought us all closer. My wife and I decided that kids needed to happen, moving forward needed to happen…life needed to happen again. It’s been 10 years since those attacks, I’ve grown and realized just how good I have it. It’s been a long trip, and every day gets better, but in the end, you look at your family and friends and realize there’s new hope.

Look, America is the greatest place in the world, we are the strongest and best nation ever, we overcame a tragedy together. My advice... keep 9-11 in your mind always and use it to become stronger in your life in your love and in your heart.


-- Casey



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