On the morning ofSept. 11, 2001, the New York Giants returned from a game in Denver, landing atNewark airport not long before the departure of United Flight 93-the one thatwent down in Pennsylvania. "I remember being on the tarmac and looking atthe plane next to us, which was [Flight 93]," says receiver Amani Toomer(right). "We went to play Kansas City the next week, and it was soemotional ... the last thing we wanted was to play football. I could see theTrade Center from my house, [and] it was smoking for months. I'd never watchthe movies [about Sept. 11]. It's too soon."... Toomer's coach, TomCoughlin, was then with Jacksonville, but his son Tim was in the South Towerwhen it was hit. "We started calling Tim as soon as I found out,"Coughlin recalls. "Every 10 minutes for two hours. I was very anxious. Itwas 10:30 in the morning when he called back. I'm very aware of the miraclesthat have taken place in my life. [Tim's survival] is one of them."...Ravens tight end Daniel Wilcox, then a Jet, got close to the scene in New York."I went to Ground Zero to pick up rocks and talk with families-anything Icould do," he says. "The experience was breathtaking. It was out of ascience-fiction movie. It made you sad, and it made you grateful to bealive."... The night of the attacks, Vikings tackle Jason Whittle, thenwith the Giants, went to see an acquaintance who had been injured near thebuildings: "He was in a hospital near Ground Zero and had head trauma. Iexplained my situation to a policeman, who said, 'I'm not supposed to do this.'But he took me over. It was eerie. Like a ghost town."... Royals firstbaseman Mike Sweeney (right) recalls that one of the team's coaches, KeithBodie, had a cousin, Nick, a firefighter, who was killed at the Trade Center."We went to New York a few weeks later," says Sweeney. "We metlittle Nicky, named after his father. It was one of the most sobering, humblingmoments of my life. Me, Joe Randa and Raul Iba√±ez ended up going down to GroundZero. There were letters written by children: 'Daddy when are you cominghome?'"... "It was like any Tuesday," recalls Redskins long snapperEthan Albright. "I went to drive my wife Kathy to where she was meetingother wives for a luncheon. But it was gridlock. We turned around, went homeand found out what happened. The next few days at practice it was dead quiet.Since we're so close to Dulles Airport, there are always planes going over. Nowthere was beautiful blue sky but dead quiet."... Marlins first baseman WesHelms was with the Braves then, and came to Shea Stadium to play the Mets inthe first post-Sept. 11 game in New York. "It brought tears to my eyes, thefeel of that stadium that night," he says. "Mike Piazza (right) hit ahome run to win the game and even though we lost, the entire Braves team tippedtheir caps to the fans. That was one of the best moments of my career."...Seahawks fullback Mack Strong (below), who was living in Mercer Island, Wash.,was jolted out of bed on his 30th birthday. "My mom called [and said],'We're being attacked.' My wife had scheduled a party with guys from the teamand the neighborhood. We still had people come over, but it wasn't so much tocelebrate my birthday. It was to take time out, reflect and pray."... TexasRangers shortstop Michael Young was with the team in a San Francisco hotel.Says Young, "I got a call from [then teammate] Carlos Pe√±a. He said, 'Turnon the TV.' I'm like, 'Are you crazy? It's early.' He said, 'Just turn it on.'I did, and I just sat there. My wife was with me. We sat and didn't say a word,glued to the TV. Saw everything. Saw the second plane hit. Saw both towers godown. It's one of those things you're never going to forget where you were, whoyou were with."
" On the road fans were a little bit kinder tous."
-Derek Jeter, Yankees, SS
Me and My Number
THE NL Cy Young candidate has worn 17 since last year,when he surrendered his 55 to then teammate Shawn Estes, who'd had it his wholecareer and had just come to the D-backs. "In spring training he kindalooked at me and said, 'Man, it would be real easy to put a line through thesecond 5 and make it 58,'" Webb says. "The next day he said, 'Whateveryou want for it, I'll make it worth your while.'" Though Webb's wife,Alicia, didn't want him to change, Webb was persuaded by Estes' offer of a nicewatch-and he managed to placate Alicia. Says Webb, "I liked 32, but shesaid, 'Get 17, it's our anniversary.'"
MEL LEVINE (TRADE CENTER MEMORIAL); KEITH SRAKOCIC/AP (HAT) DEHOOG_TDP (TOOMER); BARRY TAYLOR/WIREIMAGE.COM (SWEENEY);
ERICK W. RASCO (JETER); JEFF ZELEVANSKY/AP (PIAZZA); MARK J. REBILAS/US PRESSWIRE (STRONG);
DAVID KOHL/AP (WEBB); PAUL CONNORS/AP (NUMBER)