By Jonathan Boldt
Assistant Sports Editor
The attacks on September 11th, 2001 mean a lot of things to everyone, many of them in a very personal way. For Owlz catchers Ricky Pacione and Kyle Mahoney, simply remembering where they were when the towers fell is only scratching the surface.
Pacione’s sixth grade class was headed to Ellis Island for a field trip.
“That was your class?” Mahoney interrupted. “I heard about you guys on the news.”
“We were supposed to but I stayed in class that day,” Pacione said. “Our class was stuck in traffic when the planes hit. I had a good friend’s dad that was a lieutenant in the Bronx. He was one of the first ones on the scene to help out and didn’t make it.”
“I had a lot of friends with parents and family that were lost in the towers that day,” Pacione said.
There are very few Americans that escaped the tragedy of that day. Owlz teammates and pitchers Joe Melioris and Garrett Baker were in class 45 minutes upstate.
“Baker and I weren’t as close as these two (Pacione and Mahoney), but I remember watching it on TV,” Melioris said. “We were watching as mid-sentence from the teacher that the other plane hit.”
“It was confusing,” Baker said. “Someone said a bomb went off in the city and no one knew what was going on. Then someone came in crying and said a second plane had hit the towers.”
One of the unique aspects the terrorists didn’t count on was how unifying the attacks would be in the days and months to come. It was an act that not only brought
Republicans and Democrats together, but Red Sox and Yankees fans as well.
“We are all Yankees fans,” Mahoney said. “Except for [pitcher Garret] Baker. He’s a Red Sox fan.”
When the Yankees made the World Series weeks later, it seemed a sign of justice in the world, even if it was just the sporting world. President George W. Bush threw out the first pitch in one game wearing a bullet proof vest.
“Jeter told him that if he (Bush) went out there he had to throw a strike,” Pacione said.
“They had secret service agents dressed as umpires lining the field.”
Most ceremonial first pitches are thrown from just in front of the mound, but as a show of strength our President said no to that suggestion and threw from the rubber.
In an even greater show of strength, that pitch was not lobbed over to the catcher or dribbled in the dirt.
“Not only did he throw from the mound but he dotted it in there,” Mahoney said. “That pitch was a perfect strike.”
In the aftermath, most felt like New Yorkers even if in spirit only. Whether it was 45 minutes upstate where Melioris and Baker were or across the country in Orem, UT where they currently play.
Melioris, Baker, Mahoney and Pacione all come from different backgrounds, took different routes of getting into professional baseball, and play the game in a unique way. Now they are all on the same team, even if for only one year. But just as they were 10 years ago, they find themselves united in one goal and one purpose.
On this 9/11, these Owlz players not only help to remind others of that tragic day, but who they became in the days that followed.
Jonathan Boldt can be reached at [email protected]
Follow him on Twitter @jboldt24