I was sitting at Newark Airport, waiting to board a flight to Houston on Sept. 11, 2001. My plan was to interview Barry Bonds, who was having a record-setting season for the San Francisco Giants, and to try and describe who he was. I didn't have an interview officially scheduled with Bonds, so this promised to be a challenging assignment.
As I read a newspaper near Gate 81 in Terminal C that morning, I noticed people standing up and pointing to the television. Their faces were covered in confusion. There was a report that a plane had crashed into the north tower of the World Trade Center. We were all concerned, all worried. Soon, everyone was standing and staring at that T.V., desperate for details.
My cell phone service was spotty, but I eventually spoke to my brother, Rob, and my sister-in-law, Tracey. They mostly had the same information I had. My wife, Pamela, was on a business trip in Las Vegas so I didn’t want to alarm her so early in the morning. After a few calls and a few dropped calls, my mind tried to deduce how chaotic it must have been in lower Manhattan. Did anyone survive? I had no clue.
When the second plane hit the south tower, we all knew this wasn’t an accident. This was intentional and horrific. I forget how quickly they followed up with an announcement in Newark, but it felt like less than a minute. A calm voice told everyone that the airport was closing and that no flights would be departing. We were advised to exit in orderly fashion.
Surprisingly, I remember that people left in fairly orderly fashion. I don’t remember anyone running, although I’m sure some people did. I walked briskly, dreading over who I knew that would have been working at the towers that day. I walked a little faster and also wondered how I could get home and get to a landline phone to call Pamela. I called a car service company from a pay phone and asked if there were any drivers available at the airport. The company had one available driver. That driver and I shared a depressing 45-minute ride, both of us confused, both of us angry and both of us searching for answers.
We all have personal stories from 9/11, too many painful stories of more than 3,000 lives lost and an untold number of lives that would never be the same. For those who lost husbands and wives, sons and daughters and mothers and fathers, I can only repeat what I’ve said for the last 11 years: my thoughts and prayers are with you as you have to deal with such an unspeakable tragedy.
Several days after 9/11, I interviewed Bud Selig, the commissioner of Major League Baseball, about the resumption of the season. The first post-9/11 sporting event to be played in New York was a Mets-Braves game at Shea Stadium on Sept. 21. Selig asked if I thought New Yorkers were ready to watch baseball again. I told him that I thought they were. Although our world would never be the same again, the return to some semblance of normalcy would be welcomed. So would the diversion that baseball provided, a diversion that stretched until the Yankees lost in Game 7 of the World Series.
There is an 11-year old boarding pass that sits atop my desk, a weathered ticket that I look at every day. That’s the pass that I never used for the flight to Houston on 9/11. It’s a reminder of what happened on that unforgettable day. But I obviously don’t need the reminder. I remember the gory details of that day, just like we all do. The pass will always stay there as a tribute to those innocent people who never made it home.
Follow Jack Curry on Twitter: @JackCurryYES