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Twins honor Sept. 11
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09/11/2002 5:53 pm ET 
Twins honor Sept. 11
Players take part in pre-game ceremony on field
By Mark Sheldon / MLB.com

MINNEAPOLIS -- Americans have spent the last year since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks trying to heal and return to normal.


The positive diversion of baseball, including the Minnesota Twins, has played small part in helping that process continue. On the one-year anniversary of the national tragedy, the Twins joined the state of Minnesota in pausing to "Remember the Heroes" of 9/11 with pre-game ceremonies.

"I guess you call it medicine," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "It brings back a lot of tough memories from last year but it was special to be back out on the baseball field and it was a great ceremony with a lot of nice things happening."

The crowd of 13,106 fans in attendance at the Metrodome was silent as the video board played a video remembrance of the tragic events of last year. A somber Parade of First Responders with bagpipes and drums marched onto the field with firefighters.

Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura and Public Safety Commissioner Charlie Weaver delivered speeches. Ventura proclaimed that the 11th would be named "First Responder Day" in Minnesota.

The family of slain Minneapolis police officer Melissa Schmidt and Esko, Minn. firefighter Kim Granholm helped unfurl a permanent banner that will hang from the Metrodome roof that says "Remember the Heroes" with the image of the Twin Towers.

"It was kind of sad," Twins center fielder Torii Hunter said about the day. "It was tough to go out there in pre-game to try and get stretched and ready. It's tough to get your mind right when you're thinking about something like that. This time last year, we weren't playing. It's kind of weird to be out there on 9/11. It was a day of prayer and remembrance and that's what we did today."

As teams were lined up along the baselines, a giant American flag was stretched across the outfield. Ceremonial first pitches were thrown featuring retired Edina, Minn. police officer Mike Blood and New York City firefighter Danny Prince.

After the appearance of a bald eagle from the University of Minnesota's Raptor Center, a moving rendition of the National Anthem was sung following a moment of silence and prayer. Then it was time to once again, play ball. The players appreciated being able to take part in ceremonies to commemorate the tragedy that gripped the nation.

Twins first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz represented the USA on the 2000 Olympic baseball team in Sydney. He remembered crying after hitting a double against the Tigers last season in the first game back after play resumed following the attacks.

"Having worn the uniform and winning a gold medal and standing on the medal stand and singing the National Anthem as loud as I could, for me it means more to me now than it ever did," Mientkiewicz said. "You start reflecting on where you were and the snapshots you have in your head and what was going on last year at this time."

Twins starter Brad Radke had to pitch following the ceremonies. He said the program held by the club was a nice tribute.

"It was an emotional day for everybody," Radke said. "It's something that obviously no one is ever going to forget that day."

While it wasn't completely business as usual for this one day, the nation appears to be moving forward without ignoring what happened and all the lives that were lost. It's also a time to be grateful for living in a democracy where you can watch baseball or any other activity you want to do.

"I think that's what we're celebrating here today, freedom," Gardenhire said. "And that we're not going to let things like that happen again."

Mark Sheldon covers the Twins for MLB.com and can be reached at marksheldon@twinsbaseball.com. This article was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.



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