It was late Friday night, Sept. 21, 2001, and Shea Stadium had already established itself as the scene of a community revival. People say that sports cannot heal or unite in a time of tragedy, that they can only serve as a temporary sanctuary from the grief and pain. But if you were among the 41,235 fans in the building for the first major sporting event played in New York after the Twin Towers fell on 9/11, you understood this was not just a baseball game providing a distraction for a heartbroken city.

The night Mike Piazza became a Hall of Famer

I was one of those 41,235 at this game. It was one of the most amazing, emotional nights of my life.

A couple of years ago, I got to meet him very briefly at a book signing. I told him that I was downtown on 9/11, and that I was also at this game, and I thanked him for it. And he shook my hand and thanked ME.

He’s still the greatest baseball player I’ve ever had the fortune to personally see play, and I dearly hope he gets the call from the Hall of Fame today.