By Chris Murray
For the Chris Murray Report and the Sunday Sun
On a night that will be remembered for a far more significant event than just a baseball game, The New York Mets outlasted the Philadelphia Phillies 2-1 in a 14-inning, four-hour marathon that was overshadowed by the death of Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, who was killed by U.S. military personnel in Pakistan Sunday night.
The Mets finally took the lead in their half of the 14th inning on a two-out, RBI double by catcher Ronny Paulino that drove in David Wright from third. Paulino had a career-high five hits in the game. Kyle Kendrick got the loss for the Phillies.
But years from now, 45, 713 fans at Citizens Bank Park will be able to say where they were when they heard about the death of bin Laden, the man who was responsible for the terrorist attacks on New York’s World Trade Center, a plane crash outside of Pittsburgh and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C.
Upon hearing the news in the ninth inning, fans at the ballpark began chanting, “USA.” When the scoreboard cameras flashed to two fans wearing “USA” baseball jerseys the crowd went into a frenzied cheer.
In the Phillies clubhouse after the game, players reacted to the news of bin Laden’s death and hearing the fans “USA” chant. There was very little discussion of the game itself.
“At first, I didn’t know what was going on and once I came in after the half inning. That’s when I found out,” Howard said. “It was a kind of uplifting moment to hope that the war can kind of finally come to end.”
Phillies relief pitcher Danys Baez said he heard about it from an ESPN cameraman. He talked about his memory of Sept. 11 when he was a rookie with the Cleveland Indians back in 2001.
“I remember my coach called me to a room and said,’hey get up the country is being attacked by terrorists,’” Baez recalled. “I said ‘ c’mon I just got here last night I’m not in the mood for jokes right now and I he said turn on the TV, turn on the TV and I did that and I realized what was going on. I had family in New York. My aunt and uncle lived in New York and work over there close (to the World Trade Center) so I started to call them and there was no connection. It was a scary moment. That was big (Bin Laden’s death) and 10 years after we got the news.”
During his press conference, Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said he first heard the news of bin Laden’s death from centerfielder, Shane Victorino.
But Victorino said he wasn’t the person who told anyone about what happened, but there was a buzz around the dugout about bin Laden’s death.
“After the outcome of the game, you sit back and you think about something like that happening and it being 10 years ….I heard couple of statements via the news that family members of those who were lost in 9-11 have some sort of closure,” Victorino said. “It’s definitely a big day for American history.”
In the New York clubhouse, Mets first base coach Mookie Wilson, who helped with volunteer efforts at Shea Stadium in the aftermath of the Sept. 11th bombings, said he had mixed emotions about bin Laden’s death.
“I hate to celebrate the death of any human being. I think that’s just a sad thing,” said Wilson, who was in Pittsburgh at the time of the 9-11 bombings. “But under the circumstances, if there is justice in the world, I think this is one time that I’m kind of relieved. We’re not going to solve all of our problems, but at least that’s one major problem that we don’t have worry about right now. Having this guy control terrorism the way he has in the past.”
The Mets had taken a 1-0 lead in the fifth inning on an RBI double by centerfielder Carlos Beltran that scored Wright, who reached on a two-out single. The Phillies would even the game in the bottom of the eighth on an RBI single by first baseman Ryan Howard that scored John Mayberry Jr., who walked to open the inning.
Just as the Phillies were going about tying the game, the news that President Barack H. Obama was going to address the nation flashed across social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook at around 10′ oclock. Network news outlets CBS and CNN reported Bin Laden had been killed shortly after 10:30 p.m. as the nationally televised Phillies-Mets game went into extra innings.
In the hour leading up to President Obama’s speech, reporters covering the baseball game had been going back and forth to the press box’s dining room to keep up with the updates on CNN. When President Obama finally addressed the nation, several reporters gathered around a television set to hear the official pronouncement of Bin Laden’s death.
Meanwhile, Phillies starting pitcher Cliff Lee had a had strong effort without getting a decision. He went seven nnings allowing one run on eight hits. Lee struck out five and walked two.
While Lee was good, Mets starting pitcher Chris Young was even better, allowing no runs on just two hits and even strikeouts.