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America rallies for national unity around iconic pastime

Courtesy of MCT

Nine. One. One. It was almost too fitting.

In the ninth inning of Sunday’s baseball game between the Philadelphia Phillies and the New York Mets, the score was tied, 1-1. That’s when the chanting started.

“U-S-A, U-S-A, U-S-A,” the sold-out Philadelphia crowd chanted.

In the city that drafted the Constitution of the United States of America and the Declaration of Independence, a crowd of 45,713 exalted over the news that al-Qaida leader and mastermind behind the 9/11 attacks, Osama bin Laden, was killed by an American attack.

The demonstration of American patriotism was another example of the baseball diamond being a forum for Americans to unite and react to national news.

“In the middle of a 1-1 ballgame, everyone stopped cheering about baseball and started cheering about something that has happened in politics,” Ohio State sophomore pitcher Brett McKinney said. “Stuff like that makes you proud to be an American.”

But this isn’t the first time the sport of baseball has dealt with American history. On Oct. 30, 2001, former President George W. Bush took the mound for game three of the World Series in Yankee Stadium to throw out the ceremonial first pitch. With the entire nation, and especially the city of New York, still in a state of shock from the terrorist attacks less than two months prior, Bush fired a firm strike.

Just as in Philadelphia, “U-S-A,” chants filled the New York night as many felt the pitch symbolized the strength of America in the face of adversity.

“I just think it was a moment when the country needed a shoulder to lean on,” OSU sophomore catcher Steel Russell said. “George Bush came out and he threw that strike, and everyone kind of rallied behind him and realized it was a terrible thing that happened but it’s time to rebuild. It’s time to move on. I think that was kind of a moment where, because it was tied in with baseball, we all came together.”

Almost 10 years later, America again reacted around the sport that’s routinely called its pastime.

“I think it’s cool that it started there with George Bush and that it ended there last night with baseball again,” Russell said. “I think that’s a really special thing and a really special moment that people will never forget.”

In a moment that had nothing to do with sports, America used sports as its stage.

“Baseball is part of the great American tradition,” senior pitcher Drew Rucinski said. “It’s been around for pretty much all of the historic moments. Baseball is there, and it was kind of fitting when that happened (in Philadelphia).”

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