Philadelphia freedom: Game takes backseat

Philadelphia freedom: Game takes backseat

PHILADELPHIA -- New York Mets pitcher Pedro Beato watched from the roof of his Brooklyn high school as the World Trade Center collapsed on Sept. 11, 2001.

The world learned Sunday night that Osama bin Laden, the terrorist mastermind behind those attacks, had been killed by U.S. forces. They learned from TV, radio, Internet and smart phones. Beato learned from word of mouth. He heard thousands of Phillies and Mets fans chant, "USA! USA! USA!" in the top of the ninth inning at Citizens Bank Park.

"Mission accomplished," he said following New York's 2-1 victory in 14 innings.

The Phillies were in the field when the chants started. None of them knew what was happening at the time.

Nobody on the field did.

"I didn't really understand what was going on there for a minute," said Phillies left-hander Cliff Lee, who was watching the game from the dugout. "Then someone came up and said bin Laden had been killed over there. Took them long enough."

Players and coaches in both clubhouses were thrilled with the news.

"It's probably a night I'll never forget," Mets pitcher Chris Young said. "I came inside and heard the news. There's some things in life bigger than the game and our jobs. I was inside and could hear the crowd chanting 'USA' and I got chills hearing that. It was a pretty neat atmosphere and place to be to get that kind of news."

"One of the first things I thought about was coming from Walter Reed [Hospital in Washington, D.C.], the emotions that those guys must be going through hearing that same news," Mets third baseman David Wright said. "As proud and as great a moment as it was for me being on a baseball field, you multiply that by a million. That's probably what they're feeling at the fire houses, at the police stations, at the places like Walter Reed.

"It's just an incredible moment and for a split second, for more than a split second, you kind of come together. You've got the New Yorkers, you've got the Philadelphians, the city, you kind of come together for a common cause. It put a smile on my face before I even knew what was going on, and then made me feel a lot better after I found out."

Phillies pitcher Danys Baez defected to the United States from Cuba in 1999. He remembers the Sept. 11 attacks vividly.

"Especially for me, a kid coming from Cuba," he said. "I was only two years in the United States facing that kind of stuff. It was big."

Baez and his teammates said they tried to stay focused on the game after they learned of bin Laden's death, but they were the only ones. The game took a backseat at that point, but the players allowed themselves to reflect on the night's significance after the game's final out.

"It's kind of an uplifting moment," Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard said.

"It's a special moment for us," Phillies center fielder Shane Victorino said.

"You almost want to stop the game," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "You almost want to just stop the game and have that girl come and sing another beautiful rendition of 'God Bless America.' The first thing I thought of was, 'Well it's about time.'"

Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.