Sports world takes a day off in wake of terrorist attacks

Posted: Wednesday, September 12, 2001

Sports came to a standstill Tuesday in the wake of terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, with major league baseball postponing a full schedule of regular-season games for the first time since D-Day in 1944.

The daily grind of professional and college practices halted, as athletes and their coaches and managers tried to come to grips with the tragedy.

Ballparks were empty, race tracks were dark and sports television networks dropped highlight films and replayed scenes of the day's devastation.

''This is a sad, sad day in America,'' golfer Tiger Woods said.

Baseball, with just 2 1/2 weeks remaining in its pennant races, perhaps was most affected. Teams are fighting for playoff berths and Barry Bonds still hopes to make history by topping Mark McGwire's home run record. Aside from work stoppages, it was the first time since the Allied invasion of France that baseball wiped out a whole day of regular-season play.

''In the interest of security and out of a sense of deep mourning for the national tragedy that has occurred today, all major league baseball games for today have been canceled,'' commissioner Bud Selig said.

Yankee Stadium, perhaps the building that most symbolizes American sports, was evacuated within 90 minutes of the first attack. Security was tightened outside the 78-year-old ballpark, located in the South Bronx, more than 10 miles from the World Trade Center.

''The ballpark is ringed with police,'' Yankees spokesman Rick Cerrone said after leaving his office.

New York also postponed Wednesday night's game against Chicago. The White Sox planned to take a bus to Cleveland on Wednesday morning, an indication baseball was likely to wipe out more games.

''We're leaving,'' manager Jerry Manuel said.

The NFL, criticized for playing after President Kennedy's assassination in 1963, said it wasn't sure whether to play this weekend's schedule.

College football commissioners considered postponing the weekend's entire schedule of games, with a decision expected as early as Wednesday. Three games set for Thursday night and four on Saturday were postponed, including No. 13 Washington at No. 1 Miami.

The PGA Tour canceled Thursday's starts of the World Golf Championship and two other tournaments.

Stunned Olympic officials said security for the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics will be completely re-evaluated but vowed the games will go on as planned in five months.

A $200 million plan to protect athletes and spectators is no longer sufficient in the wake of the attacks, said Mitt Romney, president of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee.

''I look for the federal government to revisit the public safety plans for the games,'' Romney said.

The Swiss-based International Olympic Committee expressed a ''profound sense of shock and disbelief'' at the attacks.

IOC president Jacques Rogge expressed ''deepest sympathy'' to the families of the victims and sent letters of condolence to President Bush, the U.S. Olympic Committee and the Salt Lake organizers.

Garnet ''Ace'' Bailey, 53, a former NHL player with Boston, Detroit and St. Louis, and currently director of pro scouting for the Los Angeles Kings, was aboard United Airlines Flight 175, one of two planes that hit the World Trade Center. Mark Bavis, an amateur scout for the Kings, also was aboard.

In Milwaukee, Selig called off the baseball owners' quarterly meeting that was set to start Tuesday, but did not make any decision about Wednesday's games.

''The greatest country in the history in the world being attacked. So all of this doesn't mean very much today,'' he said.

It was only the third time the major leagues postponed an entire day's schedule, aside from labor strife, according to Scot Mondore of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

The others were Aug. 2, 1923, when President Warren G. Harding died; and June 6, 1944, when Allied forces invaded France in World War II. Exhibition games were called off on April 14, 1945, two days after the death of President Roosevelt.

In 1945, the All-Star game was canceled because of wartime travel restrictions. The 1918 season ended a month early on Sept. 2 by order of the U.S. War Department. Teams were given the choice whether to play following the assassination of Martin Luther King in April 1968.

The White Sox arrived at their midtown Manhattan hotel early Tuesday for the start of their series against the Yankees. Bullpen coach Art Kusnyer, out for a morning stroll, looked down Fifth Avenue and stared at the cloud of smoke.

''All of a sudden, the whole tower just collapsed,'' he said. ''All those poor people. It was hard to watch.''

In Pittsburgh, the New York Mets left a hotel across the street from a federal building and moved to the suburbs as a security precaution.

The NFL, which played just two days after Kennedy's assassination, was unsure of how it would react.

''We'll gather information and speak to several parties within the next 24 to 48 hours,'' league spokesman Joe Browne said.

Jacksonville Jaguars coach Tom Coughlin's son, Tim, was in the World Trade Center when the first plane crashed into it, but escaped uninjured.

The PGA Tour canceled Thursday's starts of the World Golf Championship and two other tournaments. In St. Louis, only 46 of the 67 players had arrived for the World Golf Championship, the others stranded across the country, a group that included PGA champion David Toms, Phil Mickelson and Davis Love III.

Commissioner Tim Finchem said the tournament will begin Friday with 36 holes.

The Tampa Bay Classic will open with 18 holes each on Friday and Saturday and a 36-hole conclusion. The same schedule has been applied to the Tour event in Oregon.

The Senior Tour will remain on schedule, with a 54-hole event that starts Friday in North Carolina.

The NCAA said conferences and schools have the authority to determine whether to play college football games this weekend as well as hold other events.

''The games themselves are insignificant in the face of what has happened today,'' NCAA president Cedric Dempsey said.

Commissioners of the NCAA's Division I-A conferences, including the Atlantic Coast, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-10 and Southeastern, held a conference call to discuss their options for staging this weekend's football games. There were 116 Division I games scheduled for Thursday through Saturday. The ACC postponed all sports through Thursday.

Three games scheduled for Thursday night were called off: Texas Tech at Texas-El Paso was tentatively pushed back to Saturday; Ohio at North Carolina State was rescheduled for Nov. 24; and Penn State at Virginia was not immediately rescheduled.

Saturday's Washington-Miami game may be played Nov. 24. Other games wiped out that day include Arizona State-UCLA at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif., (may be played Dec. 1); San Diego State at Ohio State (rescheduled for Oct. 20); and Brown at San Diego (canceled).

NASCAR canceled Friday's qualifying for the New Hampshire 300 in Louden but made no decision concerning the race itself. NASCAR president Mike Helton called off the activities and said the field for Sunday's race would be set by points.

The Indy Racing League will decide Wednesday on the status of Sunday's Chevy 500 at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth.

Major League Soccer postponed all four of Wednesday night's games.

In Columbus, Ohio, the U.S. Women's Cup doubleheader at Crew Stadium involving the United States against Japan and Germany vs. China was canceled.

The Thoroughbred Racing Association canceled all its cards Tuesday, shuttering tracks at Delaware Park in Stanton, Del; Finger Lakes in Farmington, N.J.; the Meadowlands in East Rutherford, N.J.; Philadelphia Park in Bensalem Pa.; and Prairie Meadows in Altoona, Iowa. Cards also were wiped out at Great Lake Downs in Muskegon, Mich.; Fairplex in Pomona, Calif.; and Moutaineer Park in Chester, W.Va.

Arlington Park is Arlington Heights, Ill.; Belmont Park in New York; Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore; and Turfway Park in Florence, Ky., canceled Wednesday's cards.

Baseball's minor leagues -- their regular seasons over -- postponed postseason games in all nine leagues that were to play Tuesday.

The International, Pacific Coast, Eastern, Southern, Texas, California, Florida State, Midwest and South Atlantic leagues were affected.

In hockey, the Toronto Maple Leafs postponed their trip to Newfoundland for training camp after Canadian airports grounded all outgoing flights. The Leafs will work out Wednesday in Toronto.

The Sabres, fearing delays at the Canadian border, changed plans to open training camp Wednesday in St. Catharines, Ontario, and instead will work out at their suburban Buffalo complex.

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