Mets have personal connection to 9/11

Mets reliever Pedro Beato was a freshman at

Mets reliever Pedro Beato was a freshman at Xavierian High School in Brooklyn during the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. (Credit: Newsday / Alejandra Villa)

Xaverian High, on Shore Road in Brooklyn, is roughly seven miles from what is now Ground Zero. Ten years ago, when Pedro Beato was a high school freshman, it was known as the World Trade Center, and he remembers the day that all changed.

"I saw the smoke," Beato recalled. "You couldn't see the buildings."

Mets reliever Beato, now 24, relived that 9/11 morning again early Monday morning in the Citizens Bank Park visitors' clubhouse, roughly two hours after the news broke that Osama bin Laden had been killed by Navy SEALs in Pakistan.

Back with his hometown team, the Brooklyn product is one of the few current Mets to have a personal attachment to that day, if only to see with his own eyes the thick smoke blot out an otherwise cloudless sky.

"Hopefully, this war is over," Beato said after the Mets needed 14 innings and nearly five hours to beat the Phillies, 2-1. "Everybody can feel a lot more comfortable now that it's pretty much confirmed."

Beato's optimism reflected the mood at Citizens Bank Park, where the 45,173 fans began chanting "U-S-A!" in the ninth inning as word spread via smartphones in the stands. Mets manager Terry Collins, who heard of bin Laden's fate from bench coach Ken Oberkfell, appreciated the special moment, even as he tried to figure out how to get a win.

"It did jar me," Collins said. "You almost want to stop the game. You almost want to just stop the game and have that girl come and sing another beautiful rendition of 'God Bless America.' I think the first thing I thought of was: It's about time."

The impact of the news perhaps was even greater because the Mets opened the six-game road trip with last Tuesday's visit to the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington. The team had a traveling party consisting of 42 players and staff members, and those injured soldiers were on the Mets' minds late Sunday and early Monday.

"One of the first things I thought about was coming from Walter Reed, the emotions that those guys must be going through, hearing that same news," David Wright said. "As proud and as great as the moment was for me being on a baseball field, you multiply that by a million, and that's probably what they're feeling at the firehouses, at the police stations, at the places like Walter Reed. It's just an incredible moment."

When the chants first started, Wright was standing on second base in the ninth. "Pete Orr and I were kind of puzzled,'' Wright said of the Philadelphia second baseman. "I wish I would have known before to kind of understand what was really going on."

Others, such as R.A. Dickey, were able to duck inside and catch some of President Obama's address on a clubhouse TV.

"It was emotional, you know?" Dickey said. "It brings some closure on a very significant event in our history, and to be alive for it, and for it to be so public, I think it was a good thing."

Chris Young also was out of the game after seven innings, and he was in the middle of his usual post-start training regimen when the news broke. Young was just beginning his senior year at Princeton when the 9/11 attacks occurred, and he remembered visiting the site not long after the towers collapsed.

Young lives near an Upper East Side firehouse that lost nine men on 9/11. That was the first thing that popped into his head in the wake of the news.

"It's a night I'll never forget," Young said. "There's some things in life that are bigger than the game and our jobs. Certainly to hear the crowd chanting 'U-S-A,' I got chills hearing that. For the City of New York, I wouldn't say it has a lot to celebrate. But I think it's uplifting to know that we're winning the war."

The Mets' season was only a month old Sunday, but they probably won't have a more significant night this year.

"As [third-base coach Chip Hale] said at the end of the game, that's as big a night as we'll have in a long time," Collins said. "We got bin Laden and we won."

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