DETROIT -- With Sunday marking 15 years since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the Tigers and Orioles honored local first responders, celebrating the men and women of Detroit area fire and police forces for their public service while honoring the responders and others who lost their lives in the Sept. 11 attacks.
The Tigers donated 1,000 tickets to local firefighters and police officers, along with their families, while also inviting first responders from more than 150 fire and police departments in Michigan and Ontario. A select group took part in a parade onto the field before the game, lining up across the infield with players from both teams as fans gave a standing ovation.
Members of the Dearborn Fire and Police Departments provided an honor guard to present the colors while a 300-foot American flag was unfurled across the outfield at Comerica Park, held by 150 volunteers. Aaron Pressel, a firefighter from the West Bloomfield Fire Department, performed the national anthem. Julie Secontine, Michigan's state fire marshal, threw out the ceremonial first pitch.
Players and coaches from both teams, as well as Sunday's umpiring crew, donned caps with an American flag side patch for the game. Proceeds from the sales of those caps through Major League Baseball will be donated to the 9/11 Memorial and Museum in New York, the Pentagon Memorial in Washington and the Flight 93 Memorial in Pennsylvania.
The remembrance gave players and coaches alike a chance to reflect.
"It's one of those things, like my age, you know where you were when President [John F.] Kennedy was shot," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "I remember very vividly.
" ... I think everybody knew at the time how it was going to change everybody's lives. We get a chance to honor a lot of those people today. It kind of makes you realize, what we do, what we're allowed to do, you never take it for granted. I know we have our faults in this country and so many things we want to get better at, but you've got to remember that, comparatively speaking, this is a special place to live."
Orioles reliever Tyler Wilson said he was in sixth grade on Sept. 11, 2001. He remembers watching the first games after the season was put on hold.
"It's hard to imagine what that was like 15 years ago when it happened," Wilson said. "I can remember watching the Mets and Yankees play shortly thereafter the season was put on hold, and that was a pretty powerful demonstration of this country's unity. I think it's important to emphasize that our country should be coming together in times like this in remembrance of what happened."
Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.