The United States of America had just faced the worst tragedy in its history and emotions were high following the attacks of September 11. Terrorists had hoped to tear American citizens apart through attacks on the World Trade Center in New York, The Pentagon in Washington DC and another failed attack that resulted in a plane crashing in a rural Pennsylvania field. These rebels failed, and a result of their acts was an influx of patriotism, never seen at a higher level then on one magical September night at Veterans Stadium.
The images of patriotism were everywhere, from American flags in the stands accompanied by Chants of "USA, USA", and the tears being shed by Larry Bowa, along with the fans during a moving pre-game ceremony. Many fans made the trip to the Vet that night not because they wanted to, but because they needed to. Baseball was the diversion this country needed and the Phillies and Braves took part in the first game post 9-11, and what a game it was.
Down on the diamond, the Phillies were in the heat of a pennant race, just 2 ½ games behind Atlanta in the National League East standings, and this game would inch them even closer.
Philadelphia failed to make the playoffs that season, but this night was one to remember. The stage was set for a great game as Greg Maddux went up against the Phillies Robert Person. While Person did pitch admirably with an eight-inning performance in which he allowed just two runs off six hits, the show belong to our old friend, Scott Rolen.
That evening Rolen brought fans back into the swing of things, with two solo home runs and three RBI. The Phils gave a team effort against the juggernauts from Atlanta, and took this game 5-2.
While some will remember this game because of the electric atmosphere in the stands, or Rolen's great performance, or even the excellent job done by Robert Person, the real story on this night was getting back to life as usual. The Phillies and Braves took part in something much greater than baseball on September 17, 2001 and because of that alone, this game belongs on our countdown.
Check back on Saturday for the number two game in our series of the greatest games between the Phillies and Braves.