On the 20 year anniversary of 9/11, the Yankees and Mets were unified despite being in the middle of a Subway Series

As the Mets hosted the Yankees on the 20th anniversary of 9/11, the evening felt like a kind of oral history — a “gather ’round and let me tell you about what happened here.”

It feels as if that injunction — “Never forget” — is aimed less at remembering than it is at educating the generation that’s matured since. Nonetheless the moment of remembrance is always a powerful and emotional rollercoaster.

The pregame ceremony was restrained but powerful, with members of the 2001 Mets on the field alongside first responders from the fire department, police department, port authority police, department of sanitation and department of corrections. In the classiest touch of the night, before the national anthem, the Mets and Yankees shook hands and queued up together, intermingled on the foul lines.

The teams lined up interspersed along the foul lines for the national anthem — Jacob deGrom next to Gerrit Cole, Brandon Nimmo wedged between Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton — and shared the diamond with first responders, former players and a giant ribbon imprinted with the American flag.

“As one unified New York,” said public address announcer Marysol Castro

There were video tributes throughout the night, harkening back to the Sept. 21 game at Shea Stadium against the Braves — the one that served as the cultural touchstone for this one. More than a dozen members of that 2001 Mets team were on hand, led by Piazza and Bobby Valentine.

“It means a lot to me,” Piazza said about the home run that has become, in a way that wasn’t immediately apparent at the time, an integral part of his baseball legacy. “It’ll always be with me.”

Al Leiter talked about his nerves beforehand: Was Shea Stadium safe? Todd Zeile wasn’t sure it was right to be playing a baseball game in New York City only 10 days after the attack. Edgardo Alfonzo remembered all the ‘U-S-A!’ chants — and the way Shea erupted from a solemn quiet through much of the night when Piazza took Steve Karsay deep in the eighth.

“It felt like we won the World Series,” he said. “That’s when we knew that it was the right thing to play,” Leiter said.

For a good while on Saturday night, it looked like that 9/21 win would serve as a competitive touchstone as well.

The Yankees jumped to a 5-0 lead shortly after an emotional pregame tribute, then let it all slip away, capped by James McCann’s two-run homer that put the Mets up 6-5 in the sixth. Gave shades of Piazza’s homer back in 2001.

The Mets added another run against Clay Holmes before Judge lofted a tying two-run drive off Trevor May that stayed in the air nearly seven seconds before dropping over the wall in left with no outs in the eighth.

Five batters later, reliever Aaron Loup induced a potential double-play ball from slow-footed pinch-hitter Luke Voit, but Báez sailed his throw on the pivot from second nearly into the home dugout, allowing pinch-runner Andrew Velazquez to score and make it 8-7.

Mets slugger Pete Alonso hammered a ball to center with two on in the eighth, but it was caught on the warning track for the final out, drawing an enormous groan from the home fans. Alonso squatted in the infield dirt, thinking the ball might have been gone.

“I did (think he’d hit it out),” McCann said. “I think our whole dugout did.”

“That would have been special,” manager Luis Rojas said.

Judge dived to rob Báez of a hit for the first out of the ninth, and Aroldis Chapman closed out his 26th save after a nervy dropped strike three that required a stellar throw from catcher Kyle Higashioka.

No, the result was not what the Mets wanted, and one that the Yankees desperately needed. But the outcome felt like an after thought while consuming the event. The night was special.

“This was more than just a baseball game tonight,” Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge said.

“It was a fun day to be a part of,” Yankees outfielder Brett Gardner said after the 8-7 win over the Mets. “It was a special day to be a part of. … It puts things in perspective.”

When two teams sporting “NEW YORK” on their chests shared the foul lines together, when the subway series’ typically endless back-and-forth of “Let’s Go Yankees, Let’s Go Mets!” was interrupted several times with a more patriotic clamor.

“It really is such a special thing to have both New York teams playing against each other this year,” Mets first baseman Pete Alonso said before the game. “This is a truly special event, not just for New York, but for our country.”

“The thing that kept getting me was the number of ‘U-S-A!’ chants,” McCann said. “That was pretty special. Just talking about it gives me chills. To see a stadium full of people rooting for opposite teams cheering for the same thing, that’s definitely something we could use more of in today’s day and age.”


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