NEW YORK -- A mural inside New York Fire Department Ladder 16 recognizes two firefighters that particular station lost following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. It is situated near the entrance to the station, where even there it would be impossible to receive the full attention it deserves.
The Mets realize that, and they acknowledge that memories fade. Which is why approaching the 15th anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center, team personnel again visited a local fire station -- this time, Ladder 16 -- to pay their respects. David Wright, who has attended all but one of the Mets' visits, spent time with firefighters alongside former Met Edgardo Alfonzo, even making an unscheduled visit next door to a local police precinct.
"It's something that I think that unfortunately, we only celebrate real heroes -- not only of New York, but throughout the country -- it seems like once a year," Wright said. "I wish that we could do it more. I'm going to do this every year that I'm invited back just because it's a way to say thank you. It's a way, especially during these times, to show our appreciation for the men and women that risk their lives on a daily basis."
Often, Wright references his experience as the son of a recently retired police officer when explaining his dedication to servicemen and women. But the early September visits to local firehouses run deeper than that. Though Wright was not yet a Met in 2001, he was old enough to understand the impact it had on the city.
"Everybody was like the rest of the world -- shocked," said Alfonzo, who visited Ground Zero several times after the attacks, also assisting in shipping supplies there when Shea Stadium served as a staging area. "And then when you start receiving calls from friends who lost friends, friends who lost family, it's hard. It's hard to be thinking about. And when that happened, I don't have the words to describe it. It was hard."
This year, coming off season-ending back surgery, Wright is still unable to do much more than walk. (He hopes he'll receive good news at his upcoming three-month post-surgical checkup, at which point he will be able to expand his activities.) But he made certain to join Alfonzo at the firehouse on Manhattan's Upper East Side.
"It makes a really cohesive connection from the professional sports people here in New York City to the firefighters and the police officers -- basically, that we're all a team here in the community," said Ladder 16 captain Jim Grismer, a 21-year FDNY veteran. "I was a firefighter on 9/11, and it meant a lot to me when the professional sports people came out, and they came out to the firehouses and met with us. It really gave us a sense of community, that someone had our back. It is just wonderful that they're here today."
Added Wright: "A lot of people come cheer us on at Citi Field. There should be more people cheering these men and women on."
Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2008. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.