Usually, after the last notes of the Star Spangled Banner, fans become divided, cheering for their favorite team. But, during the ninth inning of the Mets/Phillies game, a stadium of fans became completely united again.
As the news of the death of Osama bin Laden spread in Citizens Bank Park, fans started chanting, "U-S-A! U-S-A!"
This was a spontaneous outburst of patriotism that transcended team loyalties. The gut reaction after news of this magnitude.
Astros third baseman Chris Johnson summed up the news on Twitter.
@CJAstros23: Bin Laden.... He gone!
Baseball has long been a part of American history, integrated into the country's ups and downs. During America's most challenging periods, people have wondered if we should continue to play ball. The answer has always been a resounding yes.
Early into World War II, baseball grappled with the question of whether or not to continue baseball play. Instead of stopping play all together, leagues decided to continue play, contributing proceeds to the Red Cross or to the war effort.
As WWII progressed, an increasing number of men enlisted or were drafted into the military, and there were not enough players to fill the rosters of the game's minor league teams. The trend threatened the prosperity of the major leagues, and it was feared that the baseball would also lose prominence in American culture. That, of course, didn't happen. As with so many other industries, women filled the void in the American homefront, playing in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League.
In 1980, 52 Americans were released after a year of captivity in Iran. Professional baseball gifted lifetime passes to each of the former hostages. It was a way for some to reconnect with their families and with their country.
After the attacks of September 11, 2001, many wondered if it when it would be proper to continue play. The league decided to continue play the weekend immediately following 9/11. At the Cardinals game, Hall of Fame broadcaster Jack Buck recited a patriotic poem about continuing with life during the difficult times. It seemed right that we acknowledge the pain and continue to play on.
Along with our collective crises, we have our own hurts--whether that be illness, unemployment, or loss of a loved one. As with an injured player, we move through the pain. And baseball is there for us. For some, a baseball game is a time to forget their worries for awhile. For others, it offers catharsis.
Life continues, as does baseball.
And that's why baseball is also a part of our happiest moments. Once you're a fan of the game, it's entrenched into your memories.
We remember the thrill of an amazing play and the joy of a team win. We remember good times with family and friends at the ballpark. We remember our child's first baseball game. Baseball is a part of our past.
It seems all together appropriate that baseball be a part of these current events. For those in attendance, the Mets/Phillies game on the evening of May 1, 2011 will be something they will always remember.
Whether in good times or bad, the game has been a part of our past. And it will be a part of our future too.
Life isn't all about baseball, but baseball sure makes life better.