On the night of October 30, 2001, President George W. Bush stepped onto the mound at Yankee Stadium to throw out the first pitch at Game 3 of the World Series, just six weeks after the September 11 terrorist attacks. With New York City and the entire country still trying to heal, the ceremonial first pitch that night meant more than just “play ball.” ESPN Films’ new 30 for 30 Short “First Pitch,” which premieres Friday, Sept. 11, will look at how important that famous pitch was to the nation, and how baseball helped be a part of the recovery after 9/11.
The 23-minute film, directed by two-time Academy Award-winning director Angus Wall and executive produced by Jim Gray, relives that anxious October night and the days leading up to it with behind-the-scenes footage and interviews from President Bush, Derek Jeter, Condoleezza Rice, Joe Torre, Rudy Giuliani, Billy Crystal, George Tenet, 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, as well as 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 President George W. Bush. “They did a brilliant job telling this story about how baseball helped our nation start to heal after 9/11.”
Connor Schell, senior vice president, ESPN Films and Original Content added: “From its inception, 30 for 30 has always looked to tell stories about moments where sports intersects with culture and the culture changes. Perhaps no moment epitomizes that more than the ceremonial first pitch thrown out by the President that day at Yankee Stadium, reflecting the strength of a city and a nation. The story behind that pitch, as told by the President himself and the others so closely involved, gives a glimpse into the variety of emotions that the country was feeling at the time. 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. Follow 30 for 30 on Facebook (facebook.com/espn30for30) and Twitter (@30for30).