ATLANTA -- As the Braves and Mets stood along the first- and third-base lines amid the sounds of bagpipes and a 21-gun salute before Sunday afternoon's game at Turner Field, it became easier to reflect on what transpired at Shea Stadium on Sept. 21, 2001, when these same sounds were heard by these same teams ahead of the first professional sporting event in New York City following the 9/11 attacks.
"Obviously, I didn't understand the magnitude of what was going on really," said Braves Dansby Swanson, who was in second grade when the attacks occurred. "But it's still pretty chilling when you think about witnessing something like that and the lasting impact it still has on everyone today."
"Never forget" is a phrase that has often been used in discussions regarding the attacks that brought down the World Trade Towers and damaged The Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001. The deadliest attack on United States soil claimed the lives of thousands of New Yorkers and devastated the psyches of millions throughout the nation.
Ten days after the attacks, the Braves and Mets went to Shea to play that memorable game, providing a much needed sense of normalcy and an opportunity to escape for a traumatized city. The game was decided when Mike Piazza uplifted New Yorkers with a game-winning homer in the eighth inning. The two teams we were in the midst of a pennant race and a heated division rivalry at the time, but that did not stop them from exchanging hugs and handshakes after the national anthem.
After footage of that 2001 event was shown on the video board before Sunday's game, coaches and players from the Braves and Mets once again exchanged hugs and handshakes.
Before Sunday's game, Mets players wore hats to recognize each of the agencies who were first responders at Ground Zero.
"I always think it's a tremendous honor, something to honor those people who go through what they had to go through on a daily basis," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "Especially reading the papers all the time about what's happened around the country, these guys need to be rewarded. Because I'll tell you one thing, when I go home at night, I feel safe. … It's certainly our way of trying to say, 'thank you.'"
Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.