ESPN 30 for 30 Shorts: First Pitch (2015)

Directed by Angus Wall

Travelling back to September 11th, and the days following, is never an easy thing for me, or I imagine any American, to do. That day everything stopped. There were no planes in the sky, cars on the road, and there were no more baseball games in MLB ballparks. It was the easy and most obvious decision for Commissioner Bud Selig to cancel all games, but the indefinite period was ominous, as we knew things had to continue at some point. While the crisis in New York and Washington was and forever will be bigger than baseball, part of the recovery process for our nation was getting back to “normal”, and being able to enjoy ourselves at baseball games and movie theaters and concerts. The simple freedoms of our nation because an important part of how the US responded. Pride in our freedom.

Director Angus Wall takes us back to one night in particular that united the people in the wake of the terrorist attacks: the first pitch of Game 3 of the World Series between the Arizona Diamondbacks and the New York Yankees. George W. Bush had thrown the first pitch as President before, but not in this type of setting. Waiting until the series returned to New York, site of the attacks on September 11th, Bush’s first pitch in that game was much more than just a pitch. It symbolized the pride and unity of the nation to return to its beloved pastime, and to stand together in defiance of the terrorists as a proud nation of free people. Reliving this simple yet impactful moment in US history, a simple throwing of a ball before a game, brought back so many things from my memory that I was not expecting.

I may be biased as a baseball fan, but reliving President Bush’s first pitch showed the impact the game of baseball has on this nation. It is an American invention, the American pastime, and an American institution, unlike any other. Sure, a team called the Patriots may have gone on to win the Super Bowl that year, and overall football is probably a more popular sport than baseball, but the history of the game of baseball, and the impact made from a simple appearance in New York on such a huge stage by our President after such terrible events solidified the relationship between baseball and the United States. The fact that Bush managed to fire in a perfect strike from the mound was perfect, Yankee magic.

*** – Very Good

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