Convening for the first time in five days, the Yankees emerged from their clubhouse at 3:10 p.m. last Saturday. The players knelt on the grass around the pitching mound at Yankee Stadium, removed their caps and bowed their heads during 90 seconds of silence. Some held hands. Others draped comforting arms around teammates' shoulders. Three family members of club employees are among the missing. For two somber hours they fielded balls and took batting practice. Lapses in concentration were not only tolerated but also expected. Afterward most of the players piled into vans and headed to Manhattan to visit hospitalized victims. "This is an enormous, heavy time," said manager Joe Torre.
The same perfunctoriness and fatigue permeated practices of the other pro sports teams who call New York home. The Mets held a short Saturday workout at Shea Stadium. Over the crack of the bat one could hear the chirping of cell phones and the static of two-way radios—the stadium's parking lot and lower interior sections had been converted into a staging area for rescue personnel as well as a drop-off point for supplies and equipment. After practice about half the players stuck around to receive donations and load them onto vehicles for delivery. Others visited hospitals. Among the presumed dead is John Bergin, a firefighter who was the Little League coach of reliever John Franco's son.
In East Rutherford, N.J., the Giants held a light workout on Friday at their indoor facility. Midway through practice a fire alarm buzzed, and with 10 minutes left in the session it sounded again. "Take it to the house!" linebacker Mike Barrow said. "We're outta here." An electrical short in a duct was to blame. The next day most of the Giants took police boats from Jersey City to Manhattan. Given special dispensation to enter ground zero, the players autographed hard hats and endured ribbing from rescue workers about dropped passes and missed defensive assignments in their opener against the Broncos on the eve of the disaster-seemingly a lifetime ago.
In Hempstead, N.Y., meanwhile, the Jets had a walk-through on Saturday, then held a "reflection session" for players and their families.
Perhaps no team felt the effect of the attack more profoundly than the Rangers, who in May had booked rooms at the Marriott World Trade Center, adjacent to the Twin Towers, in expectation of setting up training camp at Chelsea Piers. Management decided on a different plan and canceled the reservations. Had the Rangers stuck with the original plan, some players likely would have been in the hotel on the morning of Sept. II.
When the Rangers opened camp last Thursday in the suburb of Rye, players were still shaken. By then they had learned that Tom Palazzo, a brother-in-law of assistant general manager Don Maloney, had been working in the World Trade Center when the buildings went down and that John Murray, a close friend of defenseman Brian Leetch, was in one of the towers at the time it collapsed. As of Monday both were still missing.
The tragedy also struck close to forward Michal Grosek. His 15-month-old son, Logan, has a thing for fire engines, so Michal often took him to the firehouse where Rescue I was based, near the Groseks' apartment on West 43rd Street. "Now," says Grosek, "all the guys we saw in that fire-house every day are dead."