Major League Baseball has finally changed its maddening stance that previously blocked the New York Mets from honoring first responders on the anniversary of 9/11.
During Friday’s game against the Toronto Blue Jays — which was played in Buffalo, New York — the Mets were granted permission to wear hats featuring logos of the FDNY, NYPD, Port Authority, Sanitation, and local EMTs, for the first time since Sept. 21, 2001. That day marked the Mets first home game following the 9/11 attack.
Every year since, MLB has denied requests by the Mets to wear hats acknowledging first responders.
Here’s how MLB’s former chief baseball officer, Joe Torre, attempted to explain MLB’s stance in 2019, courtesy of the New York Post.
“We’re pretty stingy when it comes to allowing one team to do it, because it’s only fair to the other 29,” Torre said. “Anything that we allow, because unfortunately every day there’s something personal in every part of the country. We certainly are sensitive to it and we’ve allowed a lot of recognition of stuff that people have had to deal with.”
Fortunately, MLB changed the policy this season.
Here’s how the Mets looked on Friday.
How Pete Alonso likely influenced MLB’s decision
With each denial, it felt like frustration was building among the players. It reached a point last season where Mets first baseman Pete Alonso felt he needed to take matters into his own hands.
Rather than wait for permission from the league, the NL Rookie of the Year ordered a pair of custom cleats honoring the 18th anniversary of 9/11 for everyone on the team. The Mets wore those cleats on the field for their game against the Arizona Diamondbacks.
When announcing MLB’s change of heart during an appearance on WFAN's Moose & Maggie Show, Alonso gave credit to Mets owner Jeff Wilpon for influencing the change.
"Years prior, we weren't allowed to, but I think because of last year, and [Mets owner] Jeff Wilpon in the commissioner's ear, they're going to let us wear the hats. FDNY, NYPD, Port Authority, Sanitation, and EMTs—without those people, who knows what could've happened. We're going to be commemorating those people with five different hats on the field today. I'm really excited that we get to represent those who help us."
While there might be some truth to Wilpon’s influence swaying commissioner Rob Manfred, there’s no denying Alonso’s actions set the stage for this long-overdue change.
Last year @Pete_Alonso20 donated his cleats and a bat to be on display at the @Sept11Memorial.— New York Mets (@Mets) September 11, 2020
Watch his emotional experience at the #911Memorial & #911Museum 👉 https://t.co/jLb5aGK84k pic.twitter.com/80UeXfsru9
Yankees also honoring first responders
After granting the New York Mets permission, it’s only natural that MLB granted the New York Yankees permission to honor first responders during Friday’s doubleheader against the Baltimore Orioles.
MLB has already announced the Mets and Yankees will play each other at Citi Field on the 20-year anniversary of 9/11. That will mark the first time they have played each other on Sept. 11.
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