Yankees, Rays commemorate 9/11 in New York

Yankees, Rays commemorate 9/11 in New York

NEW YORK -- From the massive American flag hanging form the heights of the George Washington Bridge, to the moving speeches made in lower Manhattan, to the thousands of smaller tributes scattered through the boroughs and beyond, evidence of New York's annual, solemn pause could be seen across the city on Sunday.

And as it does every year on this day, similar services extended to the baseball field. In the Bronx, the Yankees took considerable time to honor the men and women who lost their lives in the 9/11 terrorist attacks 15 years ago.

Which is why around 10:30 ET Sunday morning, Yankees reliever Dellin Betances and manager Joe Girardi ventured to Yankee Stadium's Monument Park. There, beyond the center-field wall, Betances and Girardi lay a wreath at the museum's 9/11 Monument. The day strikes a particular chord in Betances, a native New Yorker who was in middle school in September 2001.

Prior to their game against the Rays, the Yankees recognized servicemen and women from Walter Reed and the Ft. Belvoir Wounded Warriors. After that ceremony, the NYPD Emerald Society Pipes and Drums performed "America the Beautiful." Later, FDNY firefighters unveiled a giant American flag across the outfield, as FDNY firefighter Frank Pizzaro's national anthem followed a moment of silence.

FDNY firefighter sings anthem

If the flag looked familiar, that's because it was the same one famously unfurled at the original Yankee Stadium in 2001, when President George W. Bush threw out the ceremonial first pitch prior to Game 3 of the World Series.

Less than two months removed from the attacks on the World Trade Center, that World Series provided some of baseball history's most indelible moments, and some of the most emotional. The Yankee Stadium jumbotron played highlights of the several Yankees comebacks in that series before Sunday's game. The Yankees lost the series in seven games, but that did little to undermine the drama, which unfolded in front of a city still reeling from the attacks.

Jared Sandberg (center) stands during the national anthem at Yankee Stadium in 2001. (Getty)

Paying his respects from the Tampa Bay Rays dugout Sunday was Jared Sandberg, the manager for Triple-A Durham who is temporarily serving as a Major League coach. Sandberg started at third base for the Devil Rays on Sept. 25, 2001, against the Yankees, in the first game at Yankee Stadium following the attacks. He remembered a night charged with emotion and a feeling that baseball was helping people recover from something larger than the game itself.

Sandberg on post-9/11 game

"It was very emotional. To come together as a city and provide a sporting event where we could kind of come together after a huge tragedy. It was definitely special to be a part of it," Sandberg said. "Baseball was second to what was going on here in the city and around the country at that time."

Joe Trezza is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York and covered the Yankees on Sunday. MLB.com reporter Sam Blum contributed to this report. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.