George W. Bush said nothing to the crowd the night he took the mound at Yankee Stadium, only a few miles from where he had shouted through a bullhorn to people digging through the wreckage of the World Trade Center less than two months earlier.
Wearing a bulletproof vest, the president flashed a thumbs-up to the crowd, then threw a perfect strike before Game 3 of the 2001 World Series between the New York Yankees and the Arizona Diamondbacks. It was a signal to the country that the healing could begin.
“It was so moving, so powerful, that it lifted our nation,” sportscaster Jim Gray said Sunday night at the George W. Bush Presidential Center. “What President Bush told us without uttering a single word, was that we could once again attempt to carry on our lives. … What an amazing symbol it was.”
Fourteen years ago as a nation reeled from the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, President George W. Bush defied terrorists and strolled onto the pitching mound at Yankee Stadium to throw the first pitch and rally the hopes of Americans. It was something he had done since the very day of the attacks — reassuring, calming, protective during a time of uncertainty when so many had lost their lives.
Now ESPN’s 30 on 30 Shorts presents “First Pitch” and calls that night “a moment that transcended sports and became etched in our nation’s history.”
This afternoon a special pre-screening will be shown at the Bush Presidential Center at 5:30:
“As a fan of the great 30 for 30 series, I’m so pleased that ESPN Films and Jim Gray found Angus Wall to direct this,” said President George W. Bush. “They did a brilliant job telling this story about how baseball helped our nation start to heal after 9/11.”
Perhaps no moment epitomizes [the strength of a nation] more than the ceremonial first pitch thrown out by the President that day at Yankee Stadium, reflecting the strength of a city and a nation. The story behind that pitch, as told by the President himself and the others so closely involved, gives a glimpse into the variety of emotions that the country was feeling at the time.
On Friday ESPN will premiere the documentary on the 14th anniversary of the terrorist attacks that made a war president of George W. Bush, and deepened the resolve of a nation of optimists. We will never forget….