ST. PETERSBURG -- A nation spent Sunday remembering the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States.
At Tropicana Field, where the Red Sox and Rays played the third game of a three-game set, a patriotic flavor filled the air as pregame ceremonies were held honoring the country and its first responders.
Among the events were a video tribute to the victims of 9/11 and an official recognition of the area's emergency personnel. In addition, there were static displays in and around Tropicana Field, including a steel beam from the rubble of the World Trade Center in New York City, a large American flag suspended over two St. Petersburg fire department ladder trucks, a wall where fans could write messages to first responders and victims of 9/11, and the University of South Florida robotics machine that was used in the search and recovery after the attacks.
The pitcher's mound was inscribed with a 9/11 message in the dirt behind the rubber, with a remembrance logo visible throughout the entire stadium.
A group of 100 local first responders unfurled a 150-by-300 foot American flag. A contingent of 18 local fire chiefs, police chiefs and military personnel threw out the ceremonial first pitch, along with Capt. Mark Bogush from Tampa fire rescue. Bogush and his search-and-rescue K9 dog, Marley, were dispatched to the World Trade Center days after the attack.
Tropicana Field joined other Major League parks in showing a special MLB video, while players, managers and coaches on both squads donned caps and jerseys with an American flag patch.
Tim Wakefield remembered the Red Sox getting rained out in New York on Sept. 10, 2001. The team then flew to Tampa to begin a series with the Rays that was scheduled to begin on Sept. 11.
Wakefield's then-girlfriend and current wife Stacy "was actually in New York with me," Wakefield said. "She got out, because we got rained out. She got the last flight out and beat me [to Tampa], so when we got in at 4 in the morning, she was already sleeping. She was up when all this was taking place and woke me up and said, 'Hey, you need to wake up.' I started watching it, and like 10 minutes later, we saw the second plane hit, and we were like, 'Oh God. Something bad is happening right now.'"
Wakefield remembered how meaningless playing baseball felt compared to what was going on.
"But we needed to get back playing," he said, noting that the country needed to resume living the American way of life.
James Shields remembered being in the Instructional League in St. Petersburg at the time and feeling particularly close to the situation, because he had spent time that season at Hudson Valley in New York.
"I was 19," Shields said. "That put things in perspective. I didn't know what was happening, really, or why it was happening."
Shields also remembered the feelings shared by a nation in the aftermath of the tragedy.
"I think we responded exactly the way we were supposed to respond," Shields said. "Everybody came together. I think the state of New York came together more than anybody -- all the firemen and policemen, just all the people in general. It's kind of crazy how you get a tragedy like that and everybody forgets about what they're doing and they help everybody out."
B.J. Upton was in high school at the time and remembered being an office assistant when the events of the day unfolded.
"I remember being in [the school office] and everybody in school was flipping out," Upton said. "Nobody knew what was going on. I looked at a computer and saw it."
Upton attended high school in Chesapeake, Va., which is in the proximity of Norfolk, Va.
"I remember a lot of people being worried, because Norfolk's got the biggest Navy base in the U.S.," Upton said. "So they were worried about something happening there, too, since nobody had any idea about what was going on."
Red Sox center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury was a junior at Madras High School in Oregon and celebrating his 18th birthday on Sept. 11, 2001.
"I just remember going to school and waking up that morning and hearing something happened," Ellsbury said. "At school, we turned on all the TV's and saw everything unfold. At the beginning, I don't think anyone really knew what was going on. But yeah, I just remember watching things unfold from Madras High. I was on my way to school when I kind of heard everything. It's hard to believe it's been 10 years."
Boston catcher Jason Varitek was out for the season with a fractured right elbow that September and arrived to Fenway Park on the morning of Sept. 11 to rehab.
"It's like, once you realize what happened, everybody dropped what they were doing and took off and left," Varitek said.
Ten years after the events of 9/11, Varitek noted "there's a heightened awareness to everything that goes on around you" and that there's a great "appreciation for the people that tried to save lives."
"You reach out to those people who have lost family, friends, etc., in the most tragic thing that's ever happened here," Varitek said.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.