Comeback Season: Sports After 9/11

On the eve of 9/11, American professional sports leagues were moving through their standard calendars. New York City had just hosted the most-watched women’s tennis final in U.S. Open history, with Venus Williams defeating her sister Serena. Major League Baseball, Major League Soccer and NASCAR, well into their seasons, were moving toward championships. National Football League teams had played the first games in their regular season.

And then, the normal rhythm of sports was broken. Stadiums sat empty. Teams could not fly. With most major sporting events canceled in the immediate aftermath of the terrorist attacks, team and league officials, athletes, coaches and fans wondered when and how play should resume.

“Comeback Season: Sports After 9/11,” a special exhibition at the 9/11 Memorial Museum, will explore how sports and athletes helped to unite the country, console a grieving nation and gave us a reason to cheer again following the 2001 attacks.

This exhibition will illustrate many iconic moments — such as former President George W. Bush’s first pitch during a World Series game at Yankee Stadium and the New York Mets’ Mike Piazza’s dramatic, two-run home run during the first professional baseball game in New York City after 9/11 — as well as previously untold stories that highlight the unifying force of sports in American life. Acknowledging that the world would never be the same, sports provided the opportunity for escape, healing and relief.

"Comeback Season: Sports After 9/11" was made possible in part by support from the Anheuser-Busch Foundation and the New York Mets/Jeff Wilpon.

Photograph by The Asahi Shimbun, Getty Images