Firefighter Kevin Morrow was exhausted, but he still turned on the radio to listen to the Mets. He had been there when the North Tower crumbled on Sept. 11, 2001 and was part of the continuous envoys to Ground Zero when he heard the Mets were resuming play 10 days later. So, after one of those shifts, after being bussed to the nearby World’s Fair Marina parking lot, where he left his car, he turned on WFAN. Shea Stadium was less than a mile away, and well within earshot. He knew it well — not only is Morrow a Mets fan, but the parking lot there had been turned into a relief center in the previous days.
"I was changing my dirty clothes when [Mike] Piazza hit the home run," the Babylon resident said Friday, a day prior to the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks. "I heard the place just go bonkers. I was so tired, I just wanted to get into my car and beat the traffic but just an experience of just being outside the stadium and experiencing the Piazza home run a little bit secondhand, these are the types of things the Mets organization has done for the fire department and supported us and we’re very grateful for them."
Morrow, a 24-year veteran, is still with his original company, Engine 325, Ladder 163 in Woodside. And again, two decades later, the Mets were in his sights. This time, it was in the form of Noah Syndergaard and Rich Hill, who visited the firehouse to meet with with firefighters and their families on Friday afternoon. The firehouse lost three men during 9/11: firefighters Scott Larsen and Thomas Gambino Jr., and captain Thomas DeAngelis.
"It just puts things in perspective, on how there are bigger things than baseball," said Syndergaard, who recalls being taken out of school in fourth grade on the day of the attacks, and trying his best to contemplate the magnitude of what was happening thousands of miles away from his hometown in Texas. "It’s just awesome that these firemen allowed us into their home and we could give some of our time and hang out with them. It’s a great experience. There are awesome people here and I couldn’t be more thankful for them."
Syndergaard and Hill met privately with families, signed autographs, talked baseball and took photos. Syndergaard exchanged his No. 34 jersey with a fireman’s shirt.
"To see everybody’s smiles on their faces and the kids coming out [is great] — obviously, tomorrow is a difficult day for everybody," said Hill, who was at the University of Michigan when the planes hit the towers. "I certainly remember where I was on Sept. 11, 2001 and coming here, it’s definitely pretty hard. I know there are a lot of people who are younger who may not remember the events of that day but it’s something that for me is important — to be here and show support for the men and women who support the communities and provide an incredible service to the community. It’s an honor to be able to come out here and just bring a smile and see the kids and bring a smile to the kids’ faces and talk some baseball."
Morrow said he sometimes thinks about how some of the details of 9/11, including the proclamation that people "Never Forget," is getting lost as more time passes. But ceremonies and visits like Wednesday’s are heartening.
"Society, right now, is a little bit off and maybe not everybody still remembers," he said. "But something symbolic and simple like a baseball player coming out, that just makes us feel good and makes us understand that there are a lot of people who still understand what happened and how our nation was attacked and how we unified."
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