ESPN’s “30 for 30 Shorts” is diving into President George W. Bush’s ceremonial first pitch before Game 3 of the 2001 World Series, which took place just six weeks after the 9/11 terrorist attacks brought down New York City’s World Trade Center towers.
Bush’s fastball from the Yankee Stadium pitcher’s mound was a perfect strike, which is exactly what the nation needed from the moment. Fourteen years later, that may sound like a melodramatic overstatement, but at the time it was the perfect throw at the perfect venue in the suffering city that needed a lift.
Angus Wall directed the 23-minute “First Pitch,” which was executive produced by Jim Gray. The short film includes behind-the-scenes footage and interviews from President Bush, Derek Jeter, Condoleezza Rice, Joe Torre, Rudy Giuliani, Billy Crystal, George Tenet, and Bush family members, cabinet officers and Secret Service agents.
“First Pitch” recounts stories from the Yankees’ visit to the New York City Armory, where they comforted citizens looking for lost family members, to what it took for the president’s Secret Service team to safely allow him to throw out the pitch.
“As a fan of the great ’30 for 30’ series, I’m so pleased that ESPN Films and Jim Gray found Angus Wall to direct this,” said George W. Bush. “They did a brilliant job telling this story about how baseball helped our nation start to heal after 9/11.”
The story behind that pitch, as told by the President himself and the others so closely involved, offers a glimpse into the variety of emotions that the country was feeling at the time,” Schell concluded. “We are honored to tell this story as part of the ’30 for 30’ series.”
“First Pitch,” part of ESPN Films’ “30 for 30 Shorts” documentary series, will premiere on Friday, Sept. 11, on “SportsCenter” immediately after the national moment of silence, as well as on Grantland.com and ESPN.com. It will also air that evening during the 6 p.m. “SportsCenter” on ESPN2.
For now, relive the first pitch below. If it gets a little dusty watching the clip, that’s not from the infield dirt.