Facebook Twitter

Game secondary in wake of attacks

SHARE Game secondary in wake of attacks

MILWAUKEE — As World War II raged, President Franklin D. Roosevelt ordered baseball games to go on to boost the country's morale.

Baseball has been a healing force during national tragedies, and it may be again as the United States deals with Tuesday's terrorist attacks in New York and Washington.

For now, though, it's too soon.

"The greatest country in the history in the world is being attacked," Commissioner Bud Selig said Tuesday. "So all of this (baseball) doesn't mean very much."

Though the playoffs are less than three weeks away, Selig canceled the entire schedule of games Tuesday and Wednesday "in the interest of security and out of a sense of deep mourning." He didn't know when games would resume.

Baseball also postponed Thursday's game in New York between the Yankees and the Chicago White Sox. The White Sox planned to take a bus to Cleveland on Wednesday. There was no word if the games would be made up.

"We're leaving," manager Jerry Manuel said.

Aside from work stoppages, it's the first time since D-Day in 1944 that a whole day of regular-season play was wiped out.

At Qualcomm Stadium, where San Diego had been scheduled to play Los Angeles, a news radio station played over the clubhouse speakers.

"For a lot of people my age, we've only read about history, and haven't really felt the impact of terror that we're dealing with," Padres reliever Trevor Hoffman said.

"Generations before us have been through some world wars, and not that we haven't been through the Gulf War and some other issues, but to have something happen on our own soil is a bit frustrating, it's angering, it's scary," he said. "A lot of emotions that I don't think a lot of people have ever dealt with."

Atlanta pitcher John Burkett, at home in Dallas following an off-day, borrowed the SUV of former teammate Rusty Greer and planned to drive about 850 miles to Atlanta, where he had been scheduled to pitch against the Philadelphia Phillies on Wednesday.

"I felt obligated to my team to be there," he said. "I would've felt sick watching the game at home, knowing I could've and should've been there but wasn't."

Baseball's quarterly meeting, scheduled to begin here Tuesday afternoon, also was canceled. Owners had several pressing issues to discuss with the current labor agreement expiring Oct. 31, but none seemed very important in the aftermath of the attacks.

"We can't worry about our game, our business," Arizona Diamondbacks owner Jerry Colangelo said. "What were we all doing here? The people who were here, waiting for a meeting to take place. How silly."

Because the meeting wasn't scheduled to start until late afternoon, most owners planned to fly to Milwaukee on Tuesday morning. About a quarter made it, and spent their day huddled around televisions at the Pfister Hotel, watching in horror as images from New York and Washington flashed across the screen.

Selig and his Milwaukee staff joined them after their office, housed in the city's tallest building, was evacuated as a precaution.

With the government banning all air traffic, most owners opted to stay in Milwaukee. But a few, uncertain how long planes would be grounded, rented cars to drive home — including the Seattle Mariners' representatives.

Cellular phones rang occasionally, as friends and loved ones checked in. Houston Astros owner Drayton McLane had a son who was in New York on business; he called McLane's wife to say he was OK.

Atlanta Braves president Stan Kasten has a relative whose apartment is only a few blocks from the World Trade Center. She felt the blast but was unharmed.

Selig couldn't stop thinking of President Bush, a good friend and former owner of the Texas Rangers.

"We always kid each other about who has the most difficult job," Selig said. "I've got to worry about games, he's got to worry about life and death. That's a big, big difference."

Though the next 2 1/2 weeks are critical to teams hoping to make the playoffs, the owners fully supported Selig's decision to cancel games.

"When it's deemed safe to proceed or it's in the interests of our country to go forward, that's when we should resume," Colangelo said. "If it's 24 hours from now or if it's a week from now, I'm just not concerned about it."

Selig said he will talk to people around the country before making a decision on when to resume play.

There are security issues to consider, as well as the nation's emotional vulnerability.

"Last Friday, we were in New York, my wife and I. On Thursday night we had dinner and we drove around, we went to the World Trade Centers because I hadn't been there in awhile," Selig said.

"Now to believe that they don't exist anymore," he said. "It's beyond human comprehension. There is nothing in any of our backgrounds to even begin to prepare you for this."