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 were moving toward championships. National Football League teams had played their first games of the season.
And then, the normal rhythm of sports was broken. Stadiums sat empty. Teams could not fly. Most major sporting events were canceled in the immediate aftermath of the attacks. Teams, 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, explores how sports and athletes helped to unite the country, consoled a grieving nation and gave us a reason to cheer again following the 2001 attacks.
This exhibition illustrates 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.
Presentation of "Comeback Season: Sports After 9/11" has been made possible in part through the support of the Anheuser-Busch Foundation, Major League Baseball and the New York Mets/Jeff Wilpon.
Installation photography by Jin Lee, 9/11 Memorial