- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 19, 2001

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Derek Jeter thinks baseball might be just what Americans need to take their minds off the horror.

"It gives the fans a way to forget what's happened for a few hours," he said.

Being back on the field helped Jeter and the rest of the New York Yankees, too.

The star shortstop singled, scored and turned a double play in the first inning last night in the Yankees' first game since the terrorist attacks exactly one week earlier.

A day after baseball returned from a six-day break with a patriotic flourish, major leaguers tried to put the focus back on the field. The crowd of around 20,000 at Comiskey Park par for the White Sox cheered when the players with "New York" across their uniforms lined up.

Boston's Fenway Park was close to capacity, as always, and it was the same at Cleveland's Jacobs Field, where almost 35,000 fans showed up.

San Francisco's Barry Bonds picked up his chase to break Mark McGwire's home run record and more than a dozen teams resumed pennant races. The Seattle Mariners had a chance to clinch the AL West.

Every team was in action following six games Monday night, and there were reminders everywhere of the tragedies in New York and Washington.

Perhaps the most compelling image came at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, where the Mets took the field wearing caps honoring New York's fire, police and emergency personnel. On Monday night, the Mets wore them for pregame ceremonies last night, they got permission from major league baseball to wear them the whole game.

Mets general manager Steve Phillips said a fan wrote him a letter suggesting the Mets wear the caps.

"He said it would be a fitting tribute," Phillips said.

Ripken, one of the sport's best ambassadors, said he'd do his best to entertain fans.

"Certainly, I'm not so gung-ho inside about baseball," the Baltimore star said before a game at Toronto.

"When I think of baseball in the context of what's going on it does seem very insignificant," he said. "I haven't gotten really motivated to play at this point, but we all should take great pride that we can be a small distraction, a small opportunity to smile and get away from what's going on."

Boston catcher Scott Hatteberg hoped the games would provide some relief.

"This is going to be helpful for a lot of people. Everybody needs a break. I know I need a break," he said before the Red Sox played Tampa Bay.

"Baseball, as goofy as it sounds, is going to be part of the healing process. By doing this, I think we're helping out."

Fans seemed to have no complaints about the increased security.

It took Ken Torgerson of Thackerville, Okla., a few extra moments to get into The Ballpark in Arlington as guards looked through his grocery sack filled with cantaloupes and grapes.

Torgerson didn't seem to mind the wait to see the Texas Rangers play Oakland.

"I think it's great," he said.

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