This post is part of a series on September 11. As the nation’s record keeper, the National Archives holds many documents related to the events of September 11. In this series, our staff share some of their memories of the day and their thoughts on the records that are part of their holdings.
Today’s blogger is Alan C. Lowe, who has served as the Director of the George W. Bush Presidential Library since April of 2009.
In 2001, it was so fitting that the World Series included the New York Yankees in a duel with the Arizona Diamondbacks. The city of New York and indeed the entire nation were still reeling from the attacks of September 11. As devastated as we were, as much resolve as we had, we still sought some normalcy, some sign that the world was not completely different. The World Series, the championship of our national pastime, helped start the healing.
President George W. Bush was asked to throw out the first pitch in Game 3 of the Series, the first game of that championship to be held in New York, played on October 30. At the Bush Library, we have the ball that the President threw, the jacket that he wore, and even the pitching rubber that he stood on at the mound. The jacket was a gift from New York City Fire Commissioner Thomas Von Essen, and President Bush proudly wore it onto the field in honor of the many men and women who had died trying to save others on 9/11.
The President recognized the importance of the moment, and if you saw that game, you will recall the thunderous applause he received as he walked to the mound—especially after he threw a strike! President Bush often tells the story, including in his book Decision Points, about the exchange he had with Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter as he prepared to walk onto the field. Jeter told him that he should pitch from the mound, not somewhere closer to the plate. If the President stood closer to the plate, the crowd would boo. The President accepted that advice and was about ready to step out when Jeter added that, if he didn’t get the pitch to the catcher from the mound, then the crowd would boo. With those words ringing in his ears, the President made his way onto the field, now even more nervous about the pitch. Thankfully he was calm enough and retained his baseball skills (which run in the Bush family) so that he not only got the pitch to the catcher, but made it a strike to boot. I think he was determined to do it right.
Seeing these items always reminds me of that troubled time when a baseball game helped us come together, and how a pitch showed the resolve of a nation.
The George W. Bush Presidential Library will be located in Dallas, TX, on the campus of Southern Methodist University. The permanent facility is expected to open in Spring 2013. The library holds over 70 million pages of textual records, 200 million e-mails, 4 million photographs, 76,000 audio and video records, and 40,000 Presidential gifts.
George W. Bush Presidential Records are not yet available to the public under the requirements of the Presidential Records Act. The records will become available to Freedom of Information Act requests on January 20, 2014. The images contained in this collection were previously released. The library has recently posted on Flickr 168 photographs relating to 9/11.