SEATTLE -- The singing of the national anthem before baseball games is part tradition, part declaration. An opportunity to doff one's cap and ratify one's commitment to spending the next three hours taking in America's national pastime before really settling into the seats.
But on Sept. 18, 2001, it meant far more to the citizens of Seattle. With their team in the midst of the successful pursuit of 116 wins, Seattleites rose to their feet express the inexpressible, coming together as a community of baseball fans to support their team, and let their team support them in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
A day later, when the Mariners beat the Angels, 5-0, to clinch a playoff berth, Mark McLemore and Mike Cameron led a somber parade around the field, hoisting an American flag. What should have been a purely joyous celebration was instead cathartic, and it was about so much more than the postseason.
"I still remember where I was, I guess 12 years ago now, and it's kind of surreal, but I do remember specifically watching the first games back," current Mariners shortstop Brad Miller said. "It just kind of shows you how baseball, and sports in general, can unite people. You can't change anything, but I think it does show how people can rally around sports and use them for some good."
On Wednesday, the Mariners marked the 12th anniversary of the attacks with a moment of silence, special lineup cards and a "We Shall Not Forget" silhouetted ribbon displayed throughout the ballpark.
The ceremonial first pitch was thrown out by Medal of Honor recipient Ty Michael Carter, who received the highest military honor for his attempts to save a fallen comrade and resupply his fellow soldiers during the Battle of Kamdesh.
Carter's actions in battle showed that for him, fear is something that can be overcome. Still, faced with the prospect of throwing a pitch, in uniform, in front of thousands of fans, Carter allowed that there were some butterflies in his stomach.
"It's always kind of nerve-wracking," Carter said. "Not because I don't want to embarrass myself, but because I don't want to dishonor or disrespect the medal because of what it represents: The men that day, the soldiers that fell and also the Gold Star families. So every time I put the Medal on I'm automatically nervous, because I just can't do something stupid."
Ryan's defensive legacy to stay with Seattle
SEATTLE -- As Kyle Seager headed to the field for routine stretches before an unremarkable September game between two regular teams that will not be making the playoffs, he saw a decidedly unordinary sight. Shortstop Brendan Ryan, a Mariners mainstay since 2011, was packing his bags, having just been traded to the Yankees.
"It was definitely a surprise," Seager said. "I wish him nothing but the best; I was actually running in to head up to the field and everything, and I saw people around him, and he said he was going to the Yankees. It was definitely a shock, and hopefully it'll be a good opportunity for him there."
As inconsistent as Ryan was at the plate -- he has been below the Mendoza line for two seasons now -- he was consistently excellent in the field. The 31-year-old will leave behind a legacy of exceptional infield defense, one he has imparted on Seattle's younger players.
"That's why I was excited to come into Spring Training and get to be around those guys for the first time and try and pick up and then use it," Brad Miller said. "He was a great teammate, and he even said, 'Hey, keep working on the stuff we've been talking about,' and that's awesome. That really is the sign of a pretty good teammate."
The arrival of Miller from Triple-A relegated Ryan to a part-time role early in the summer. The rookie shortstop entered Wednesday's game batting .259 with 31 RBIs, and he has played well enough defensively to be the club's everyday shortstop. Ryan impressed teammates and coaches alike with his mature reaction to the demotion as he sought to help Miller improve.
"I thought that Brendan Ryan handled it like a pro," manager Eric Wedge said. "When you talk about young kids coming up and taking playing time from you, it's something that you've got to handle one way or the other, and I thought he handled it the right way -- like a pro. Not only that but he was working to try to help those guys, and that says a lot for him."
Now Ryan will have a chance to make an impact for a contender. Although he will be ineligible for postseason play, Ryan can provide clutch defensive play for the Yankees, who are in thick of the Wild Card race.
• Abraham Almonte sat out Wednesday's game after leaving in the eighth inning of Tuesday's loss to the Astros. Wedge said the rookie callup was not injured and that the team was just being cautious.
"Yeah, his legs were a little stiff, and I didn't want to take any chances with it," Wedge said. "Figured with the off-day tomorrow we'll keep him out today, and hopefully he'll be ready to go. I think he could play today, but we've still got a couple-plus weeks left of baseball, so I don't want to take a chance and push him, especially when [speed] is such a big part of his game."
Jacob Thorpe is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.