NY Post - September 10, 2011by DAN MARTIN
Mike Piazza knew he hit a big home run when he crushed Steve Karsay's pitch in the eighth inning of the first game played in New York after Sept. 11, 2001, but even he's surprised by how much it has stayed with people.
"I just got off the train [on Thursday] from Philadelphia and two guys came up and said how much it meant to them," Piazza said of the two-run shot that gave the Mets the lead in their eventual 3-2 victory over the Braves 10 days after the attacks. "I really didn't expect it to stay with people like that, but I hear that kind of stuff all the time."
Including yesterday, when Piazza visited Ladder 3 near Union Square, which lost 12 members on 9/11.
Piazza will be at Citi Field tomorrow, along with several other members of the 2001 Mets for the 9/11 Remembrance Ceremony, where much of the talk likely will also center around the Mets' memorable victory Piazza was such a huge part of.
"In that particular moment, people really wanted something to cheer about," Piazza said. "They needed something to cheer about and I was in the right place at the right time and came through."
The homer didn't simply give the Mets a dramatic triumph, it was also part of a streak in which they won eight of nine games and briefly made a run toward the playoffs.
It was more than Piazza had hoped for before the game.
"I just wanted to get through the night," Piazza said. "When the game started, we just had a lot of anxiety, at least for me."
That vanished, at least temporarily, with Piazza's blast.
"I was sitting with Mayor [Rudy] Giuliani in the stands during that game," Mets COO Jeff Wilpon said. "From the national anthem on, it was a tense night. Every time you heard something going on, you sort of looked around. Finally, there was a big sigh when everyone could just cheer when Mike hit that home run."
The Mets were in Pittsburgh on Sept. 11 and bussed back to the city after the attacks, before resuming the season Sept. 17 on the road against the Pirates. The Mets frequently visited firehouses in the aftermath.
And though they played three games before returning to Shea Stadium, Piazza said he wasn't sure it was appropriate.
"Some of us were a little bit jumpy, not just from the lack of feeling secure, but just because we didn't know if it was the right thing to do or the right place to be," Piazza said. "But to see the way people reacted to it, it was a good feeling to know that it was."
Though many people who were at Shea that night believe the reaction of the crowd of 41,235 to his home run was the loudest they have ever heard in a stadium, Piazza can't say.
"I don't remember a lot about that night, only because I was emotionally a wreck," he said. "[The home run] was an exhilarating push of emotion. You saw people had tears in their eyes. Others just wanted to cheer about something. I was very touched."
And the home run hasn't only stayed with fans.
David Wright was also at Ladder 3 yesterday and remembered having just been drafted by the Mets and watching the game at home in Virginia, before leaving for instructional league in Port St. Lucie.
"That first game back was probably the coolest sporting event I'll ever see," Wright said. "And Mike's hit was unbelievable."