New York City’s MLB teams on Friday honored the memory of the people who perished on one of the darkest days in the city’s history. And, at long last, they received MLB’s blessing to do it during games rather than just before them.
Yankees and Mets uniformed personnel, as is custom, wore special caps to acknowledge first responders who worked to rescue or recover victims of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center’s twin towers on Sept. 11, 2001. More than 400 emergency workers were killed as the 110-story structures tumbled to the ground. Many more have died since then of illnesses brought on by working at Ground Zero.
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Yankees pitcher Gerrit Cole wore an NYPD hat as he shut out the Orioles in the first game of a doubleheader at Yankee Stadium. He said between games that he would wear an FDNY hat for the second game.
“We honor the people that passed away that day and we honor the people that worked to save lives . . . the NYPD and the FDNY,” he said. “This is a very somber day but hopefully we were able to provide some joy for the people that are having a rough day today in New York.”
Mets personnel wore similar caps for their game in Buffalo against the Blue Jays to acknowledge the NYPD, the FDNY, Port Authority police, the Department of Sanitation and EMTs. According to Newsday and the New York Post, the team and the Players Association asked MLB to relent on its policy barring non-uniform caps, and baseball granted the request.
The NYC teams have been forced to switch back to their regular caps for games on Sept. 11 after wearing tribute caps prior to the first pitch. The Mets did wear the caps in games, against MLB’s wishes, in 2001 and wore them again in games (per Newsday) in 2005 and 2007.
Last year, first baseman Pete Alonso devised a workaround: custom cleats for the entire team, which everyone agreed to wear.
“Eventually, they kind of had no choice,” Alonso told reporters, per Newsday, referring to MLB.
Cole was 11 and Alonso was 6 when the towers collapsed.
MLB will be forced to make another call on the caps next year when the Yankees and Mets play each other on the 20th anniversary of 9/11.
“I think we should’ve worn these hats every single time,” Alonso said. “But I hope every single year on this day moving forward we get to wear these hats.”
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