The news of Osama bin Laden’s death was well received by Cubs television analyst Bob Brenly on Monday. Brenly was the Diamondbacks manager that year and recalls scrambling to figure out how to handle the interruption in the baseball season after the attack on Sept. 11, 2001.
“We didn’t know how long it would be, we didn’t know how long we’d have to wait before we could play again,” he said. “Professionally, it was a little unnerving and obviously, for the whole world it was tremendously unnerving.”
Playing in the 2001 World Series was an emotional event Brenly will never forget.
“I’ve said it many times, I’ve never been prouder to be a part of Major League Baseball than I was then,” Brenly said. “We get all carried away and it consumes our lives on a daily basis but the reality is we’re just a distraction, we’re entertainment and it was never more needed than it was that year. For the series to go the way it did, the Yankees winning those three at Yankee Stadium, I think everything played out as good as could be expected under those circumstances.”
Brenly was proud of how his Diamondbacks team handled the situation, too.
“We had all those veteran players and they all knew how to handle themselves and they all knew the right things to say and do,” he said. “We took a bus out to Ground Zero when we were in New York and it was strictly optional and I think 20 of the 25 guys went. We put on hard hats and talked to rescue workers. Rescue workers were getting their cell phones out and calling their kids — ‘Here’s Randy Johnson, here’s Curt Schilling, here’s Luis Gonzalez.’ For the couple hours we were down there, hopefully it gave them a little breather from what they were going through.”
Brenly’s son, Michael, was 14 at the time and the D-Backs’ bat boy. While the players were signing autographs for the rescue workers, Michael asked his dad if he had an extra Sharpie pen.
“He took off his hard hat and had some of the firemen sign his helmet,” Brenly said of his son. “He still has it hanging in his room at home. I’m pretty proud of that.”
Cubs manager Mike Quade was Oakland’s first base coach in 2001 and the Athletics played the Yankees in the first series in Yankee Stadium after the attacks on 9/11.
“It was surreal,” Quade said. “I made a point to stop by the mayor’s box to thank [Rudy] Giuliani for all he did. There’s no crying in baseball but that was one tough day to come back. It hurt. The people who were most closely involved in keeping us together as a country did a heck of a job.”
– Carrie Muskat