Maddon remembers fallen friend on 9/11

Maddon remembers fallen friend on 9/11

PHILADELPHIA -- The flags were at half-staff Friday at Citizens Bank Park to honor those who lost their lives in the terrorist attacks 14 years ago on Sept. 11. Some of the Cubs players and coaches were telling stories about where they were that day. Catcher David Ross was playing for Jacksonville in the Double-A playoffs. Shortstop Addison Russell was in second grade.

Cubs manager Joe Maddon remembers where he was that day, and a friend he lost. On Friday, he reached out and sent a text message to the brother of a fraternity buddy who was at the World Trade Center that day.

"I was with the Angels and we were at home in Long Beach," Maddon said, recalling the morning of Sept. 11, 2001. "I got into my Dodge Ram pickup truck and turned the radio on and the reports were coming in and I thought it was another 'War of the Worlds' kind of hoax and a made-up event or moment. I figured out it wasn't.

"That particular day, my buddy, Neil, had just been appointed the head of the [New York] Port Authority," Maddon said of Neil Levin, who was his fraternity brother. "We had just been in contact for the first time in 20-something years prior to that. I knew he worked at the World Trade Center."

Hearing that the towers had been targeted, Maddon tried to calm his fears.

"My thought was, 'OK, it happened early enough, he's the boss, please don't go to work early,'" Maddon said. "But apparently he was up in the restaurant when that all happened. I never got a chance to see Neil. I believe he would've been governor of New York now had he lived."

Levin, who had gone to Lafayette College with Maddon, was killed five days before his 47th birthday. He and Maddon had talked about a month before, planning on a get-together in New York.

"Neil's gone," Maddon said. "A lot of people have a lot of different stories, but Neil was my horrible moment from that day."

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.