George W. Bush part of MLB’s 9/11 anniversary tribute
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Former President George W. Bush took part in a first ball ceremony in Texas, Aaron Judge put on special cleats at Yankee Stadium and the New York Mets wore first responder caps as Major League Baseball paused Sunday to remember the Sept. 11 attacks.
There were moments of silence, remembrances and tributes at ballparks all across America on the 21st anniversary of 9/11.
“It’s a moment in our country’s history. We all have certain things we remember, where we were when it happened and how we felt. So many people involved, so it’s a chance to honor those people today. Realizing the people and families that were affected by this that are still feeling the pain from it,” Mets manager Buck Showalter said before a game in Miami.
Bush, who was president on the day of the attacks, was at Globe Life Field as the Rangers played Toronto. He joined Jimmy Pollozani, a police officer in nearby Fort Worth, and Pollozani’s 13-year-old daughter, Andita, in the ceremony.
They represented police officers, firefighters and first responders across the state. Andita threw the pitch to Rocky Wolfe, a firefighter from the central Texas city of Killeen.
Bush famously delivered a perfect strike before Game 3 of the 2001 World Series at Yankee Stadium between the Yankees and Arizona Diamondbacks weeks after New York City’s twin towers fell.
There was a moment of silence before the Blue Jays and Rangers played. During the Canadian and U.S. national anthems, Bush stood between Texas interim manager Tony Beasley and first base coach Corey Ragsdale in front of the home dugout.
Bush delivered the ball to Andita and gave her a hug and a word of advice before she threw from just in front of the mound. Afterward, Bush gave a fist bump to her father before they left the field.
Bush received rousing applause when he was announced. As he headed toward the Rangers’ dugout afterward, some fans chanted, “USA! USA!”
All Rangers and Blue Jays personnel in uniform wore a special Patriot Day patch on their caps. Special lineup cards and base jewels were used.
Bush was part of the investment group that owned the Rangers from April 1989 until June 1998 and remains involved with the club. He and wife Laura have lived in Dallas since he left the White House in January 2009.
At Yankee Stadium as New York played Tampa Bay, Judge wore cleats marking the day. His left cleat had “9/11 Patriot Day” on the back and the right one had “9-11-01.”
The Yankees wore hats in tribute of 9/11 responders rather than their interlocking NY.
Starter Domingo Germán’s cap said NYPD and there was a mix of FDNY. He sprinted to the bullpen to warm up holding an American flag in his right hand, drawing cheers from a crowd that had been sitting through a rain delay.
Germán said he was inspired by watching Sammy Sosa running with a flag in the Chicago Cubs’ first home game following the attacks.
“It was a way to show support to the country, to the people, the victims, and today I felt like it was a good way to kind of replicate that and show that horrific event, you remember what happened, and that it’s close to your heart,” Germán said through a translator.
“That moment marked me as a kid, so I always felt that given the opportunity, given the right time, I wanted to do it, and it happened here with the Yankees. I guess it’s something that my kids can see and hopefully use it as inspiration,” he said.
Manager Aaron Boone placed a wreath at the monument in Monument Park that was dedicated on the first anniversary of the attacks.
Yankee Stadium public address announcer Paul Olden began a brief pregame ceremony by calling the attacks “an unsuccessful attempt to break the spirit of our great nation.”
Firefighter Regina Wilson sang “The Star-Spangled Banner” after the Port Authority Honor Guard presented the colors.
The Mets wore caps with insignias representing New York first responder departments. Featured were the city’s police and fire departments as well as Port Authority Police and departments of sanitation and correction.
Anthony Varvaro, a former big league pitcher who retired in 2016 to become Port Authority police officer, was killed in a car accident Sunday morning in New Jersey on his way to work at the Sept. 11 memorial ceremony in Manhattan.
Varvaro, 37, was born in Staten Island and played at St. John’s before becoming a reliever for Seattle, Atlanta and Boston from 2010-15.
“We are deeply saddened on the passing of former Braves pitcher Anthony Varvaro,” the Braves said in a statement. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and colleagues.”
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