Thick soot blanketed everything Bobby Valentine’s eyes could canvas when he visited ground zero in the early morning hours two days after Sept. 11.
“It was like walking through a nightmare,” Valentine recalled.
Shea Stadium in Queens, then the home of the Mets, had been transformed into a staging area. Valentine, then the Mets’ manager, assisted there. On Sept. 21, 2001, the Mets hosted the Atlanta Braves in their first game in New York since the attacks. Mike Piazza smacked a home run in the eighth inning that lifted the Mets to a 3-2 victory, providing a level of catharsis for many in a reeling city and country.