Major League Baseball offered a place of relief and a semblance of normalcy after the horrifying events that reshaped lives 10 years ago. On a solemn anniversary, it becomes a place of unity and remembrance once again at 15 ballparks on Sunday.
"All of us within Major League Baseball made a solemn promise after Sept. 11, 2001: We Shall Not Forget," Commissioner Bud Selig said. "On Sept. 11, 2011, in the memory of those who were lost, the 30 Major League clubs will honor our military, the first responders, public servants and the people who enrich their communities for others."
As first introduced in 2001, MLB will again symbolically cover the silhouetted batter logo on all jerseys to respectfully feature the U.S. flag -- and the Canadian flag for Toronto jerseys. A dedicated pregame ceremony and an on-field moment of remembrance and silence will be held in each home park. Commemorative base jewels and lineup cards will be used. A 9/11 "We Shall Not Forget" remembrance logo is painted onto the foul-territory grass, and "God Bless America" will be performed during each seventh-inning stretch.
Each home U.S. ballpark, along with TV broadcast partners plus MLB Network and MLB.com, will show a special tribute video that includes footage from all 30 clubs and "God Bless America." Many clubs have allocated complimentary tickets for members of the military and first responders, recognizing them and public service contributors during pregame ceremonies.
"When I look back on those days once play had resumed, it gives me pride that the national pastime provided fans with some moments of normalcy and joy," Selig said. "That sense of community was never more profound than during the 2001 World Series, when the extraordinary solidarity of the Yankee Stadium crowds demonstrated the special place that baseball holds in our country.
"I am very proud of the efforts throughout Major League Baseball to remember and to commemorate, and like all Americans, it is my great hope that acts of kindness and service will renew the spirit of unity that resonated in our nation after Sept. 11."
Clubs are hosting service-based activities in support of the National Day of Service and Remembrance. In addition to the MLB-wide plans, here are some game-by-game specifics:
Cubs at Mets: John Franco will throw out the ceremonial first pitch to Mike Piazza before this night game at Citi Field, a reminder of the instrumental role they played in the club's relief efforts immediately following the tragedy. Mets players will pay tribute to New York's uniformed service men and women by wearing caps representing their organizations following the tradition started by the 2001 team. In advance of this game, the Mets and members of the Mets Alumni Association continued outreach efforts started by the club 10 years ago by visiting local firehouses.
Grammy Award winning singer Marc Anthony will perform the national anthem and American Idol finalist and Queens native Pia Toscano will sing "God Bless America." Anthony performed an emotional rendition of the anthem on Sept. 21, 2001, the first regular-season professional sporting event in New York after 9/11.
Braves at Cardinals: First responders were given 5,500 tickets, and those in attendance will be given a salute. There will be a video presentation of legendary Cardinals broadcaster Jack Buck's 9/11 poem "We Shall Overcome," and a ceremony with a World Trade Center survivor. An eagle will fly, and youths and players will come together on the field for the National Anthem (carried by Fox Sports Midwest).
Royals at Mariners: Some 3,000 tickets were distributed to area police, fire and emergency personnel and families. Members of Seattle Police, Fire and EMT will be introduced on the field pregame. Members of the Professional Firefighters of Kitsap County will present the colors as representatives of the King County Search and Rescue carry a giant flag in center field. The national anthem will be performed by the 56th Army Band from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, and "God Bless America" will be performed during the seventh-inning stretch by Keith Taylor of the Marysville Fire Department. Mariners broadcaster Rick Rizzs will read Buck's poem, which the late Dave Niehaus recited during previous 9/11 observances at Safeco Field.
Marlins at Pirates: The Pirates will hold a ballpark collection for the "Flight 93 National Memorial." Surviving family members of those killed in that plane crash will be invited to the game. Other Flight 93 events will preclude their attendance for pregame ceremonies, but those who do attend will be recognized during the seventh-inning stretch. The Pirates have donated at least 5,000 tickets to first responders and their families.
Twins at Tigers: The Tigers will recognize more than 400 first responders/public service members on the field, and the ceremonial first pitch will be thrown by 10 individuals from the greater Detroit community who shipped out to New York to assist NYPD and FDNY in 2001.
Orioles at Blue Jays: The Blue Jays will wear customized jerseys and caps to support both the U.S. and Canada. Pregame ceremonies will include a moment of silence, with Toronto police presenting the colors. A Toronto firefighter will perform the national anthem. In lieu of the ceremonial first pitch, the Blue Jays will place the game ball on the mound and scroll through the names of Canadians who lost their lives that day.
Red Sox at Rays: First responders from Pinellas, Hillsborough, Pasco, Manatee and Polk counties will be recognized. The first 10,000 kids 14 and under will receive a Rays Fire Helmet and the first 30,000 fans will receive a mini American flag.
A's at Rangers: The Texas Army National Guard is presenting the colors and unfurling the giant flag in center. Fireforce, a group of firefighters from the Garland Fire Department, will sing the national anthem.
Three individuals who were impacted by the 9/11 events and made life-changing decisions as a result of that day will be recognized with first-pitch honors. Capt. John Pearson of the Texas Army National Guard was on the maintenance crew for the plane that hit the Pentagon, signing it off for service and later joining the Guard and serving two tours in Iraq. Harold Elliott, retired Arlington Police Department Chaplain, began counseling New York firefighters and police officers affected at Ground Zero and now counsels others affected by 9/11. Mary John will throw the pitch along with her 9-year-old son Jeremy, whom she was carrying while pregnant and working that day on the 71st floor of the South Tower. Her husband Sujo was working on the 88th floor of the North Tower; both survived and the father is a motivational speaker around the U.S.
Reds at Rockies: Pregame will include a Green Beret Foundation check presentation, and Green Beret hero William Evander Lyles III will throw the first pitch. There will be a flag unfurling with first responders and an active and veteran military march. Neil Cole of the Denver Fire Department will perform the national anthem, with a flyover by the 120th Fighter Squadron Red Eyes. Fans will see fireworks during the anthem and when the Rockies take the field. Senior Master Sgt. Steve Kindermann of the Air Force Academy Band will perform "God Bless America."
In addition, 343 firefighters from nine states met at the CenturyLink building to climb 110 floors in full gear (75 pounds) to honor New York counterparts who did it 10 years ago, raising money for the Fallen Firefighters Fund. Four representatives from that "Denver Stair Climb" will be recognized before the game.
Yankees at Angels: The pregame ceremony will include six first-pitch participants who will throw to Torii Hunter, Mike Scioscia, Jered Weaver, Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada and Mariano Rivera. They include: Joe Turillo, retired FDNY lieutenant and 9/11 survivor; Robert Schiavone, former member of FDNY Ladder 39 and now in LA County Deputy Sheriff's department; Christopher Suprun, a firefighter/paramedic from North Carolina who responded to the attack on the Pentagon; and Navy Seals VR Mike Murphy, Eric Franssens and Chet Henderson, each of whom have served multiple tours of duty in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The national anthem will be performed by the Orange County Sheriff Bugle Corps. The Orange County Fire Authority Color Guard will present the colors while 250 local police, fire and military volunteers unfurl a giant American flag in the outfield.
Dodgers at Giants: In a pregame ceremony and throughout the game, fans will be asked to remember 9/11. As fans enter the gates, they will be given an 8 x 10 card with the American flag on one side. The other side of the card will list a name of one of the men, women or children who died that day.
Padres at D-backs: Sen. John McCain will place a ball on the Chase Field pitching mound before the game, as the D-backs pay tribute to military and first responders with a "Salute to Our Everyday Heroes." It concludes the host club's World Championship Reunion Weekend. A pregame ceremony will honor: Arizona Army and Air National Guard Chief Warrant Officer Mark Head, Air National Guard Tech Sgt. Cynthia Islava, U.S. Air Force 56th Fighter Wing Captain Karl Winter, U.S. Air Force 56th Fighter Wing Tech Sgt. Nina Mitcham, U.S. Coast Guard First Class Petty Officers William Shurtleff and Martin Wygant, U.S. Air Force Tech Sgt. Matthew Slaydon and Phoenix fire fighter Mike Zepeda. Color guards from the Phoenix Police Department, Phoenix Fire Department and Arizona Air National Guard will present the colors as Luke Air Force Base Staff Sgt. Marquia Giles sings the national anthem. A moment of silence will be observed and children of military personnel and first responders will take the field with D-backs players.
Indians at White Sox: The White Sox will salute 10 members from the Air Force, Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Chicago Police Department and Chicago Fire Department, as well as pilots and flight attendants from United Airlines and American Airlines. They will unfurl 10 red, white and blue stars on the outfield grass during the national anthem. A special video will play prior to the start of the game and when the White Sox players take the field they will each be greeted by a military member or first responder at their respective positions.
Miller High Life will host a reception for the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. Veteran Nick Colgin will throw out a ceremonial first pitch on behalf of IAVA. Colgin served as a combat medic in Afghanistan where he took part in more than 700 combat patrols and received a Bronze Star for meritorious service.
Phillies at Brewers: Brewers TV announcer Bill Schroeder, catcher Jonathan Lucroy and other players will visit a pregame party for veterans at the Klement's Sausage Haus in Miller Park parking lots. Veterans from various military branches will throw ceremonial first pitches. Fire Chief Russ Spahn of Greenfield, Wis., will perform the national anthem. Colors will be presented by representatives of the Milwaukee County fire and police departments and Sheriff's Office.
Astros at Nationals: A portion of the proceeds from tickets purchased at Nationals.com/heroes for this "Heroes Day" game will be donated to the Pentagon Memorial Fund. In addition, volunteers will be on hand to distribute information on how to help support that fund.
A special public service announcement featuring First Lady Michelle Obama will be shown, encouraging fans to honor the heroes of 9/11 by volunteering for community service projects. Regularly scheduled gameday military initiatives will take place, including an in-game military tribute for several groups given premium seats; and the ongoing "Me and a Friend" program, in association with the Department of Defense and the USO, allowing children of active duty service members to receive complimentary tickets for themselves and their friends.
After this game, the Astros will return home and will commemorate 9/11 with 2011 Heroes Night during Monday's homestand opener against the Phillies. As the Houston Fire Department Bagpipe Band performs "America the Beautiful," dignitaries in uniform will surround the field as part of a special pregame ceremony, and will carry out the giant flag. One "hero" from the Army, Navy, Marines, National Guard, Air Force, as well as Houston's police, fire and EMS departments, will throw out a simultaneous first pitch.
Mark Newman is enterprise editor of MLB.com. Read and join other baseball fans on his MLB.com community blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.