An installation shot of the exhibition "Comeback Season: Sports After 9/11"
Photo by Jin S. Lee

Comeback Season

The special exhibition, Comeback Season: Sports After 9/11, explored how sports helped the country unite and start to heal in the aftermath of the attacks.

On view through May 2019.

Photo by Jin S. Lee

About the Exhibition

Sports have long claimed a central position in American life. In the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, as they had during previous moments of crisis, sports helped to shape a national response to events far beyond the playing field.

Almost immediately, there were questions of propriety. Should games go on as planned? When would it be acceptable to resume competition? Sports figures spoke of their unwillingness to move too quickly, their desire to provide solace to the country, and the responsibility to honor the victims. They would go back to the games, they said, when it would help.

In the months that followed, sports set an emotional cadence for a grieving nation. Ballparks, racetracks, and arenas offered fans a place to come together and cheer. The rituals of sport were extended to commemorate those killed on 9/11 and honor those who protect us. In stadiums around the country, millions found a path forward, combining reverence for the fallen with devotion to the games.

This was the comeback season, reminding a nation that what we have in common is more powerful than what divides us.

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.

Video: Comeback Season Exhibition Trailer


Objects on View

This special exhibition immerses visitors in unforgettable sports moments through displays of artifacts and cherished memorabilia, and stories from athletes, coaches, and fans.

Miniature football

Collection 9/11 Memorial Museum, Gift of the Office of Chief Medical Examiner

Among the objects recovered after the 9/11 attacks, these mementos attest to the significance sports held for so many, whether as fans or athletes, caught up in the events of that day. This toy football was recovered from the Deutsche Bank building across the street from the World Trade Center site.

Helmet with NYPD lettering worn by New York Mets player Mike Piazza after 9/11

Collection 9/11 Memorial Museum, Gift of Livio Forte

When Major League Baseball resumed, the New York Mets wore caps representing New York City’s first responders. Mets player Mike Piazza cut the letters from an NYPD cap and glued them to the catcher’s helmet he wore behind home plate. 

Photograph by Doug Pensinger, Getty Images

First Pitch

Six weeks after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, President George W. Bush threw out the first pitch in Yankee Stadium for Game 3 of the 2001 World Series. That night, the first pitch meant more than just “play ball.”

Learn more about this iconic moment featured in Comeback Season through the ESPN 30 for 30 short film, “First Pitch,” screened regularly at the Museum’s Auditorium on the Atrium Terrace level.

Getting Here

The Memorial and the Museum are located at the World Trade Center site in lower Manhattan at 180 Greenwich Street.

Experience a Tour

The best way to experience the 9/11 Memorial & Museum is through a tour led by an expert guide.