Over the course of that day and into the next, Shea Stadium became more than a place for ballgames. It became a staging area where supplies were collected for those working at Ground Zero on what was originally a rescue mission and then a recovery operation, and finally a cleanup undertaking. Firefighters and policemen from around the country traveled to New York to help. There were rows of cots set up in the tunnels of the stadium for crews to come back and rest between shifts. Many of the ticket office staff worked unloading trucks and sorting items sent to Shea (now the supply staging area) from all over the country. Even though some had lost friends, many staffers did not go home for days at a time. In my suburban community, my school district, 50+ parents never came home that day.
The Mets lost over 60 season account holders that day as many clients were located in the World Trade Center. Around the city ticketing professionals were impacted, some lost sons, others lost friends. Somehow baseball and ticketing didn’t seem that important. But ticketing went on, home games were cancelled and needed to be refunded and the Mets were only two games out of first place and post-season preparations had to continue. The ticket staff never stopped working on their volunteer mission of unloading trucks and sorting materials while they processed ticket orders and did post-season work day and night.
On September 18th a decision was made by President Bush and the Commissioner of Baseball, Bud Selig, that America needed baseball and its sense of normalcy and that we would again play baseball on September 21st at Shea. All the materials that were staged in the ticket office, in the stadium and on the field had to be removed quickly, tickets had to be refunded and exchanged for this new game, all types of special securities had to be put in place in a short period of time. That memorable game went on in front of a full house; it was the first and only time I ever witnessed two opposing teams meet at home plate to embrace each other pregame. They say there’s no crying in baseball, but I beg to differ. Many tears were shed on 9-11 where I worked, and just as many on that glorious bitter-sweet September 21st game as fire department’s bagpipes played.
In my entire career, I was never prouder of the ticket office staff and their incredible accomplishments during those 10 days. I will never forget September 21, 2001, because that is the day I knew we were going to be alright, as a ticket office, as a people, as a nation. I knew we would heal and be strong again. No one seemed to care that day which political party anyone belonged to as 55,000 fans cheered as one while Mike Piazza provided a late-game winning home run that New York City needed so desperately. Even the Atlanta Braves knew it was destiny, tipped their caps, and endured one of the most easy to accept losses in the history of the game.
I remain grateful for the members of the ticketing community, our ticketing tribe, our ticketing family that reached out from around the world to ease our pain, the ones that know the show must go on, and that without a ticket there’d be no one there to see it. In ticketing, our job is to bring smiles and to help create memories, we stood tall, we did our jobs.
I tell this story as we approach July 4th, 2018 because I know we are all Americans, we are all patriots, and I know once again we will be strong. If you build it, they will come. Ease their pain, go the distance.
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Tri-Tix is a regional based group that consists of ticketing (and related) professionals located within New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and the surrounding areas.
This is a great article. Thanks for taking the time to write it and share the experience!
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