George BrettMay 2, 2011
Stephen Siller was a firefighter with Squad 1 in Park Slope in Brooklyn. A little less than a decade ago, he worked the late shift from the night of September 10 into the early morning of September 11. After work, he was on his way to play golf with his brothers. When he heard on his scanner that a plane had hit the Twin Towers, he went back to the firehouse to get his gear and drove toward Manhattan. The Battery Tunnel into Manhattan had already been shut down by then. He started running through the tunnel with all his gear. A fire truck from another company picked him up near the other side of the tunnel and dropped him off near what would soon enough become known as ground zero, so that he could try to join up with the firefighters in his squad, and that was the last anyone ever saw of him.
A Tunnel to Towers run that followed Siller’s footsteps was created to honor Siller’s memory. I ran in the first of the annual runs in 2002. They shut down the Battery Tunnel and firefighters lined the walls of the tunnel, standing at attention. I got a t-shirt from the run that I don’t wear much, not wanting to wear it out, but yesterday for whatever reason I decided to put it on, so I happened to be wearing it last night when I watched President Obama declare “justice has been done.”
This morning I have been trying to write but I can’t manage a whole lot. One reason, maybe the biggest, that I write about baseball cards is because it’s the one part of life that I have at least a slight grasp of, at least in the very literal sense that I can hold a card in my hands. Everything else is more or less beyond me.
I was nine when this 1977 George Brett card came out. Stephen Siller was eleven. The year before, he had become an orphan. He was raised after that by his older siblings. It’s easy enough to imagine him looking to baseball like many of us did when we were kids, for something solid, something to rely on, something bathed in sunlight and fun. Siller grew up playing baseball and cheering for the Mets, but it seems that he may have reserved his most passionate enthusiasm for the All-Star pictured here. On the website for the Tunnel to Towers foundation, there are some notes about Stephen Siller’s life, and one note in particular brought him to life for me. If I’d ever been lucky to meet this guy, I would have liked him:
- Drove straight to Kansas City for George Brett’s last game, drove straight back, went to work