Mets commemorate 9/11 with Tuesday's Children

Mets commemorate 9/11 with Tuesday's Children

NEW YORK -- Michelle Pegno and her husband are in year No. 2 of what has become an annual tradition.

Pegno lost her then-husband, Michael Lunden, in the tragic events of Sept. 11, 2001, just 10 months after the birth of their son, Matthew. Eleven years later, Pegno is now remarried, but the pain of the anniversary is still difficult to deal with.

Pegno's husband grew up in Chicago, so when the Cubs came to town last September, the couple and Matthew decided that attending the game on 9/11 at Citi Field was a good way to keep their minds busy.

One year later, they're back again.

Pegno, her husband and Matthew took part in a meet and greet with players at Citi Field on Tuesday, posing for pictures and getting autographs from some of their on-field heroes. The event was in conjunction with Tuesday's Children -- a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping those who lost loved ones in the attacks -- which Pegno has been a part of since its inception in 2001.

"Especially a day like today, it's not really a day you want to celebrate, but it's a day you want to commemorate," Pegno said. "I always struggle with what to do, and this is just the perfect thing for me to do with Matthew. It's Tuesday's Children related, it's 9/11 related and it's also something fun."

In addition to about 10 players, Mets COO Jeff Wilpon was also on hand, as was Tuesday's Children executive director Terry Sears. The Mets distributed 300 total tickets for the event, and Sears estimated about 150 kids were in attendance.

"On a day like today, when it's Tuesday, Sept. 11 and the sun is out and the sky is blue and it's exactly like it was, for our families to be able to go to this tonight and not think all day long about 11 years ago is just phenomenal," Sears said.

Matthew's favorite player, R.A. Dickey, wasn't on hand for the event -- he started Tuesday's game against Washington -- but Matthew said he met the knuckleballer at a similar event last year. Tuesday marked the Mets' sixth meet and greet with Tuesday's Children in 2012 alone.

"It feels good. I think it'll cheer everybody who's here up," he said. "It's a very sad day in American history, but it's nice that they make everybody happy."

Pegno said that the day is difficult in the beginning, but any opportunity to laugh or smile means the world to her and her son.

"They like to talk baseball, and we like to make them smile," Mets reliever Bobby Parnell said. Parnell comes from a family of firefighters -- his father is a fire chief in Salisbury, N.C., and his brother is training to become a firefighter in nearby Charlotte. Parnell's grandfather was also a firefighter in New Jersey.

"When they come up and they're asking about our game today or anything, we just like to have fun with them as much as we can," Parnell said. "We just show them that we can put smiles on their faces and let them have fun."

"It means a lot, and it puts things in perspective to be able to see the smiles on their faces," Scott Hairston added. "They've been through a lot the past few years, so we just try our best as players to help any way we can.

"I'm glad to be part of an organization that supports the victims of 9/11. Obviously, the whole country remembers this day, but it really hits home here in New York City. I'm glad I'm able to do a little something to help out."

Adam Rosenbloom is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.