NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – A special sports exhibit set to open next week at the 9/11 Memorial Museum will explore how professional teams helped unite and console the nation after the terror attacks.
CBS2’s Dave Carlin joined in a preview of the new exhibit “Comeback Season: Sports After 9/11,” opening to the public before the end of the month.
“Sports brought us together and consoled us as we grieved and gave us a reason to cheer again,” said Alice Greenwald, 9/11 Memorial & Museum president and CEO.
It was Sept. 21, 2001, and Mike Piazza‘s hit was the homer heard all over the world.
All eyes were on the New York Mets when they returned to Shea for the first baseball game played in the city after the attacks.
In the bottom of the eighth the Mets trailed 2-1, and what Piazza’s home run became arguably the most famous in history.
“Once Mike hit that home run, the goosebumps hairs on the arm went up and you looked in the stands, people throwing soda, candy, hugging each crying the flag being waved,” said former Mets player John Franco.
Baseball was far from the only game where the spirit of sports was helping get through a troubled time.
Another big moment came on Oct. 30, 2001, when President George W. Bush threw the first pitch at Yankee Stadium, a symbolic gesture of American strength and perseverance.
And then on Feb. 3, 2002, sports, entertainment and tribute combined at the Super Bowl Halftime Show.
The song was “The Streets Have No Name,” and on screens behind the band U2, every name of every soul taken in the 9/11 attacks appeared. Bono’s jacket was lined with the stars-and-stripes, and crowd roared its approval.
A nation gripped by fear needed escape, and sports stadiums across the nation provided the lively outlets needed for unabashed American pride.
“You felt isolated and terrified, but also encouraged as the weeks went on,” recalled Barber.
“Sports did play in the healing process,” said Franco. “They say sports players are the heroes. We’re not the heroes, police and firemen are the heroes.”
The museum exhibit makes use of historic artifacts, multimedia and first-person testimony from athletes, coaches and 9/11 family members.
“Comeback Season” opens to the public on June 27 and is scheduled to run through next summer.