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Baseball 'unimportant' in wake of terror

Baseball 'unimportant' in wake of terror

This story was originally published on MLB.com in 2001.

MILWAUKEE -- Bud Selig had dinner at the World Trade Center in New York City last Thursday. He never could have fathomed seeing it vanish Tuesday.

Baseball games became unimportant after the tragic series of events in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania that prompted postponement of Major League Baseball games on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Selig, the Commissioner of Major League Baseball, said he would announce when play will resume.

"We're in uncharted waters," Selig said. "It always takes things like this to understand that canceling games is not very important to a lot of people. Far more important things are at stake than games."

Major League Baseball is considering postponing all current series and then making those games up at the end of the regular season. The playoffs would then be pushed back to accommodate the realigned schedule. However, no decision has yet been made.

Selig was riding an exercise bicycle Tuesday when he saw the news on television and was shocked. Major League Baseball was to open its owners meetings Tuesday at the Pfister Hotel, but those meetings have also been postponed. Selig was able to get to his office in downtown Milwaukee but then was asked to evacuate.

Many of the Major League owners did not reach Milwaukee. Those traveling on planes that took off early Tuesday were forced to land before reaching the city, and some called from Des Moines and Cincinnati to check in. Selig said all of MLB's New York staff was accounted for.

He said he sympathizes with President George W. Bush and the tough decisions he faces.

"We always kid each other about who has the more difficult job," Selig said. "But I have to worry about games. He has to worry about life and death."

The Commissioner said events such as Tuesday's put the game's place in life in proper perspective.

"We're just a small part of society, and we'll do whatever we can to go forward," Selig said.

Selig said he will consult with government officials as well as the ownership before deciding when to resume play.

"(The decision) will be made by me," he said.

The postponement brought to mind the 1989 World Series, when an earthquake interrupted the Series between Oakland and San Francisco at Candlestick Park. The magnitude of the events brought back other memories.

"I was thinking this morning, that I remember where I was the day that J.F.K. (John F. Kennedy) was assassinated," Selig said. "I felt that was the most horrific thing I'd experience. It was beyond my comprehension. I remember pulling off the road two days later listening to someone talking about it and breaking down.

"The earthquake in '89, that was a terrible event," he said. "This (Tuesday's events) is beyond human comprehension. This is beyond any rational thinking. You read about these things and hear about them all over the world and hear about them in Israel and agonize and worry and all of a sudden the greatest country in the world... to watch that this morning. I was working out this morning. When I saw the first explosion I was stunned, when I saw the second..."

Selig didn't complete the sentence. He didn't have to.

"Everything else is on hold," he said. "We'll do what we can to be helpful in every way."

Unlike the Commissioner, some in the game had little context in which to place the catastrophic events.

"For a lot of people my age, we've only read about history, and haven't really felt the impact of terror that we're dealing with," Padres reliever Trevor Hoffman told The Associated Press.

"Generations before us have been through some world wars, and not that we haven't been through the Gulf War and some other issues, but to have something happen on our own soil, is a bit frustrating, it's angering, it's scary," he said. "A lot of emotions that I don't think a lot of people have ever dealt with."

The owners who did reach the Pfister were concerned with family -- and trying to figure out a way home. Atlanta Braves president Stan Kasten said he planned to drive the 800 miles back.

"I think anyone who plans to be home in the next few days is looking at driving," Kasten said.

Some of his players were going to have a tough time getting back to Atlanta because they took advantage of thee off day and had gone to visit friends or family.

Arizona Diamondbacks chairman Jerry Colangelo was relieved to reach his son Brian, the general manager of the Phoenix Suns, who was in Milan, Italy. Brian was to fly back to the United States Tuesday. He will remain in Italy, Colangelo said.

"I don't think life will ever be the same," Jerry Colangelo said. "This is a real turning point in my lifetime for sure."

Colangelo had arrived Monday night because he had a 9:30 a.m. committee meeting on Tuesday. That seemed insignificant.

"I think Major League Baseball and their respective teams will do everything in their power to minimize the risk as best they can," Colangelo said regarding security at the ballparks. "Exactly what those procedures will be, I'm sure they'll be tightened up in the next 24 hours."

His Diamondbacks were scheduled to open a three-game series against Colorado on Tuesday night.

"We'll just take it one day at a time," Colangelo said. "Obviously you'd like to know as early as possible, but it doesn't matter to me. I don't care if they're all postponed. When it's deemed safe to proceed and it's in the interest of our country to go forward and play Major League Baseball, that's when we should resume, whenever that is. Whether it's 24 hours from now or a week from now or whatever, I'm just not concerned about it."

Chicago White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf called his General Manager, Kenny Williams, as soon as he heard the news Tuesday because the White Sox had just arrived in New York for a three-game series against the Yankes. Williams was able to get buses to get the team out of the city, but, because all bridges and tunnels were closed, the team can't go anywhere. Reinsdorf told them to stay in the hotel.

When the games are resumed is not essential, he said as a television set behind him once again rolled footage of the World Trade Center collapsing.

"This is unimportant," Reinsdorf said. "Who cares about these games?"

Drayton McLane, chairman and CEO of the Houston Astros, arrived via private plane Tuesday. His pilot announced 10 minutes before landing that they had to land immediately. Milwaukee was the closest airport and they landed around 10 a.m. ET. McLane was not aware of what had happened in New York until the driver of their car told them.

They had to clear the area because a plane carrying former President George Bush was forced to land in Milwaukee.

The Astros were to open a series against the San Francisco Giants on Tuesday night in Houston.

"It's just hard to believe. I don't think any of us can focus," McLane said. "We're saddened for everyone involved and for our nation. It's just sadness."

Carrie Muskat is a regional writer for MLB.com based in Chicago. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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