Major League Baseball Hall of Fame Inductee Salutes September 11 Heroes

Piazza tells Cooperstown audience that true praise belongs to first responders killed in attack
JOHN KEKIS, AP Sports Writer Published Monday, July 25, 2016

COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. (AP) — Two players who began their careers at opposite ends of the spectrum nearly three decades ago ended up in the same place on Sunday — with their names etched on plaques at the Baseball Hall of Fame.

For Ken Griffey Jr. and Mike Piazza, the culmination of their long journeys was tinged with tears all around.

"I stand up here humbled and overwhelmed," Griffey said, staring out at his family and tens of thousands of fans. "I can't describe how it feels."

The two became a piece of history on their special day. Griffey, the first pick of the 1987 amateur draft, became the highest pick ever inducted. Piazza, a 62nd-round pick the next year —No. 1,390 — is the lowest pick to enter the Hall of Fame.

Griffey played 22 big-league seasons with the Mariners, Reds and White Sox and was selected on a record 99.32 percent of ballots cast, an affirmation of sorts for his clean performance during baseball's so-called Steroids Era.

A 13-time All-Star and 10-time Gold Glove Award winner in center field, Griffey hit 630 home runs, sixth all-time, and drove in 1,836 runs. He also was the American League MVP in 1997, drove in at least 100 runs in eight seasons, and won seven Silver Slugger Awards.

Griffey, who fell just three votes shy of being the first unanimous selection, hit 417 of his 630 homers and won all 10 of his Gold Gloves with the Seattle Mariners. He played the first 11 seasons of his career with the Mariners and led them to the playoffs for the first two times in franchise history.

"Thirteen years with the Seattle Mariners, from the day I got drafted, Seattle, Washington, has been a big part of my life," Griffey said, punctuating the end of his speech by putting a baseball cap on backward as he did throughout his career.

"I'm going to leave you with one thing. In 22 years I learned that one team will treat you the best, and that's your first team. I'm damn proud to be a Seattle Mariner."

Dubbed "The Natural" for his effortless excellence at the plate and in center field, Griffey avoided the Hall of Fame until his special weekend because he wanted his first walk through the front doors of the stately building on Main Street to be with his kids, whom he singled out one by one in his 20-minute speech.

"There are two misconceptions about me — I didn't work hard and everything I did I made look easy," Griffey said. "Just because I made it look easy doesn't mean that it was. You don't become a Hall of Famer by not working, but working day in and day out."

Griffey's mom, Birdie, and his father, former Cincinnati Reds star Ken Sr., both cancer survivors and integral to his rise to stardom, were front and center in the first row.

"To my dad, who taught me how to play this game and to my mom, the strongest woman I know," Junior said. "To have to be mom and dad, she was our biggest fan and our biggest critic. She's the only woman I know that lives in one house and runs five others."

Selected in the draft by the Dodgers after Hall of Fame manager Tommy Lasorda, a close friend of Piazza'a father, Vince, put in a good word, Piazza struggled.

He briefly quit the game while in the minor leagues, returned and persevered despite a heavy workload as he switched from first base to catcher and teammates criticized his erratic play.

Mom and dad were foremost on his mind, too.

"Dad always dreamed of playing in the major leagues," said Piazza, just the second Hall of Famer depicted on his plaque wearing a Mets cap, after Tom Seaver in 1992.

"He could not follow that dream because of the realities of life. My father's faith in me, often greater than my own, is the single most important factor of me being inducted into this Hall of Fame. Thank you dad. We made it, dad. The race is over. Now it's time to smell the roses."

Piazza played 16 years with the Dodgers, Marlins, Mets, Padres and Athletics and hit 427 home runs, including a major league record 396 as a catcher. A 12-time All-Star, Piazza won 10 Silver Slugger Awards and finished in the top five of his league's MVP voting four times.

Perhaps even more impressive, Piazza, a .308 career hitter, posted six seasons with at least 30 home runs, 100 RBIs and a .300 batting average (all other catchers in baseball history combined have posted nine such seasons).

Though the Dodgers gave him his start, Piazza found a home in New York when he was traded to the Mets in May 1998.

Three years later, he became a hero to the hometown fans with perhaps the most notable home run of his career. His two-run shot in the eighth inning at Shea Stadium lifted the Mets to a 3-2 victory over the Atlanta Braves in the first sporting event played in New York after the 9/11 terror attacks.

Piazza paid tribute to that moment.

"To witness the darkest evil of the human heart ... will be forever burned in my soul," Piazza said. "But from tragedy and sorrow came bravery, love, compassion, character and eventual healing.

"Many of you give me praise for the two-run home run in the first game back on Sept. 21st, but the true praise belongs to police, firefighters, first responders that knew that they were going to die, but went forward anyway. I pray that we never forget their sacrifice."

Attendance was estimated at around 50,000 by the Hall of Fame, tying 1999 for second-most all time.

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.



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New York City Fire Department Battalion Chief Vin Mavaro, left, and Mike Piazza pose for a photo during an awards ceremony at Doubleday Field on Saturday, July 23, 2016, in Cooperstown, N.Y. Mavaro spoke at the ceremony about baseball's role in helping New York City and the nation recover from the 9/11 attacks. Piazza is to be inducted into the hall Sunday. (AP Photo/Heather Ainsworth)
National Baseball Hall of Fame inductees Mike Piazza, left, and Ken Griffey Jr. hold their plaques after an induction ceremony at the Clark Sports Center on Sunday, July 24, 2016, in Cooperstown, N.Y. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)

USFA: New York Fire Coordinator Fatally Struck

Tioga County fire official was stuck by a vehicle that was backing up
United States Fire Administration Published Saturday, July 23, 2016

The U.S. Fire Administration has announced the official on-duty death of Fire Coordinator John Scott, 71, of the Tioga County Bureau of Fire on June 20, 2016.

While performing maintenance on a county radio tower, Fire Coordinator Scott was struck when the driver of a county vehicle was backing up. Scott was then transported to UHS Wilson Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Tribute is being paid to Fire Coordinator Scott at at
To date, 43 firefighter fatalities have been reported to USFA in 2016.  Year-to-date and annual USFA firefighter fatality reports are posted online at

Fatality status is provisional and may change as USFA contacts State Fire Marshals to verify fatality incident information.

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To date, 43 firefighter fatalities have been reported to USFA in 2016.

Battered Bronze Sphere Returns to World Trade Center

Bronze sphere ripped open in Sept. 11 attack will be moved to Liberty Park
In this Sept. 24, 2001 file photo, Fritz Koenig's "The Sphere" outdoor sculpture that once graced the plaza at New York's World Trade Center lies in the wreckage following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The 25-ton, bronze sphere ripped open by the collapsing towers is returning to a spot overlooking the rebuilt site. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey on Thursday July 21, 2016, approved plans to move the Koenig Sphere from its temporary place in Battery Park at Manhattan's southern tip. The sculpture will grace the new Liberty Park overlooking the 9/11 memorial. No date has yet been set for the move. (AP Photo/Ted Warren, Pool/File)
Published Friday, July 22, 2016

NEW YORK (AP) — A 25-ton, bronze sphere ripped open by the collapsing World Trade Center is returning to a spot overlooking the rebuilt site.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey on Thursday approved plans to move the Koenig Sphere from its temporary place in Battery Park at Manhattan's southern tip.

The sculpture will grace the new Liberty Park that opened last month, across the street from the 9/11 memorial plaza on the 16-acre site. No date has been set for the move.

The sphere once stood at the heart of the trade center, between the two towers that were decimated in the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.

German artist Fritz Koening had created the work commissioned by the Port Authority, which later lost 84 employees. It was dedicated in Battery Park in 2002, with an eternal flame honoring the more than 2,700 people killed on 9/11.

Thursday's decision came after years of discussions with New Yorkers who wanted the sphere returned to its pre-9/11 location.

But with the reconstruction of the World Trade Center, the sphere could not return to its prior location "without adversely impacting the architectural design of the memorial plaza," the Port Authority said in a statement.

Still, 15 years after the attacks, the beloved work will serve "as a symbol of resilience and strength for workers, local residents and tourists," the Port Authority said.

It will be installed next to the rising new St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, which was destroyed by fiery falling debris. The Santiago Calatrava-designed church, when completed in 2018, will glow at night through its white marble exterior, illuminating the sphere.

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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New York Governor Extends “Move-Over” Law to Volunteer Vehicles

Legislation now includes volunteer vehicles with blue or green lights
WIVB Published Friday, July 22, 2016

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP/WIVB) — Drivers in New York now have to slow down and move over for volunteer firefighters and ambulance workers as well as police and maintenance vehicles along roadsides.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed legislation expanding the state’s “Move-Over” law on Thursday.

Previously, the law only applied to drivers approaching stopped police, emergency, maintenance or towing vehicles with flashing red and white or amber lights. The new law applies also to vehicles with flashing blue or green lights that are operated by volunteer fire or ambulance workers involved in a roadside emergency.

The law requires highway drivers to slow down and move from the lane immediately adjacent to an emergency vehicle on the shoulder, unless traffic or other hazards prevent doing so safely.

Violators are subject to a $275 fine and three points on their license.

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Last of Major Sept.11 Artifacts Move to Museums

Last major pieces leave hanger to go to museums in other states
JEAN-PAUL SALAMANCA, Newsday Published Thursday, July 21, 2016

The last major pieces of wreckage from Ground Zero have been removed from the Kennedy Airport hangar that has housed them for 15 years - the first step in placing the artifacts in museums nationwide.

The three artifacts were moved Tuesday after a special ceremony at the hangar and turned over to the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation, a Staten Island-based nonprofit set up in Siller's memory.

Siller, 34, a Rockville Centre resident and FDNY firefighter, ran through the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel to the Twin Towers to try to save people trapped inside on Sept. 11, 2001. A father of five, Siller died that day along with 342 other firefighters, 23 NYPD officers and 37 Port Authority police officers.

"Stephen was our little gift," said his brother Frank Siller, foundation chairman and CEO, at the Hangar 17 ceremony attended by officials from his group, the NYPD, FDNY and the Port Authority. Daniel Rodriguez, a retired NYPD officer who gained fame for singing "God Bless America" at events nationwide after 9/11, performed the national anthem at Tuesday's ceremony.

The three World Trade Center artifacts that will be preserved are a 40,000-pound parking structure column, a 35,000-pound elevator motor, and a 40,000-pound TV antenna connector base from the north tower. Six broadcast engineers from New York City television stations died while monitoring transmissions from the antenna on Sept. 11.

In an impassioned speech, Siller said the artifacts would remind future generations of Americans of the sacrifices made by first responders on 9/11.

"We owe it to them. We owe it to them to get out there and make sure that their family members, that their brothers, that their sisters are not forgotten," he said. "That their fathers, their mothers are not forgotten. And this is how we do it ... with these sacred, sacred artifacts."

Officials would not disclose where the artifacts were being taken, saying only they were being removed to a secure site until they could put on display at museums nationwide.

John LaBarbera, 64, chief of the FDNY 23rd Battalion, said the artifacts may go on the road as part of the foundation's mobile 9/11 exhibit. The traveling museum, which has visited more than 25 states and Canada, features other Ground Zero relics, from steel to audiotapes of fallen responders' final transmissions.

LaBarbera, who knew firefighters who died on 9/11, said he had heard many emotional responses from people viewing the artifacts.

"People are overwhelmed by their experience looking through it," he said. "The first thing that we get from people is where they were that day."



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New York First Responders Take Online Threat Seriously

Firefighters, EMTs and paramedics across the state are urged to use caution
KATIE ALEXANDER, WIVB Published Wednesday, July 20, 2016

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – The union representing Buffalo’s firefighters is urging all of its members to be extra vigilant to keep themselves safe from a potential attack, after new threats against firefighters emerged online.

The Buffalo Professional Firefighters Local 282 issued a safety alert this week, warning of threats from a person who claims to be part of an extremist group that say things like “As you fight, remember that the firemen and police are on the same side! Don’t be fooled” and “We are calling on all gangs across the nation! Attack everything in blue except the mailman, unless he is carrying more than mail.”

No specific threat has been made against Buffalo firefighters, and the union notes that it’s not clear how credible the threats are, but they are stressing safety for all, especially in the wake of recent ambush attacks on police officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge. “In this day and age, we have to take everything seriously,” said Buffalo Professional Firefighters Local 282 president Thomas Barrett.

Buffalo Police Commissioner Garnell Whitfield told News 4 safety is the priority for all firefighters. “Safety is always the first and foremost consideration in the lives of our firefighters, so bottom line is follow the SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures), be diligent, pay attention and again operate as a team,” he said. “These are all things that our men and women do on a daily basis and in times like these we just have to be more diligent.”

Following suit with Buffalo Police, the Buffalo Fire Department is taking a close look at its standard operating procedures to try to minimize the risk.

“We don’t want to see threats against any municipal employees, police, fire,” Mayor Byron Brown said Tuesday. “There are no credible threats that I know of against firefighters in the city of Buffalo, but firefighters are following their standard operating procedures, they’re getting guidance from the police department, and we’ve asked our firefighters to be on alert.”

The threats are not just concerning for firefighters, though. They have all first responders in our area on edge and thinking about staying safe.

“I thought, ‘How do we find a way to make our people safe, or safe to the extent that they can be, while they’re still serving the public?'” said Twin City Ambulance CEO Bryan Brauner, when asked about his reaction to the news of the new threats.

Brauner says an EMS provider’s job is inherently risky, and those crews get assaulted at an alarming rate.

He encourages all EMTs to wear body armor while on duty, for as much as that can do, and he is taking steps to better train his crews to protect themselves. “Four of Twin City Ambulance’s personnel, including myself became certified as defensive tactics instructors for EMS to be able to bring that knowledge back here to train our people on appropriate defensive tactics techniques, appropriate use of force, and use of situational awareness and safe distancing to never get in a situation where we wind up in any sort of hands on confrontation,” Brauner explained.

The firefighter’s union is also stressing situational awareness in light of the recent threats, and is encouraging firefighters to wait for police to arrive at a scene if the situation doesn’t feel right.

As the union’s executive board told firefighters in the safety alert it issued, “Scene safety is the most important aspect of any call.”



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Online Threat Targets New York First Responders
  • Injuries in Crane Collapse on New York’s Tappan Zee Bridge

    Three people were injured while trying to avoid the crane wreckage
    A giant crane sits road bed of the Tappan Zee Bridge north of New York City after toppling around noon on Tuesday, July 19, 2016, during construction of a new bridge, across the Hudson River between Westchester and Rockland counties. The base and treads of the huge, moveable crane sat on the unfinished new bridge while part of the toppled crane lay across the lanes of the old bridge and another section lay across a construction platform in the water between the two spans. (David Leibstein via AP)
    Published Tuesday, July 19, 2016

    NEW YORK (AP) — A huge crane toppled off the new Tappan Zee Bridge under construction north of New York City and collapsed across the busy span it is replacing, halting traffic Tuesday afternoon on the key Hudson River crossing.

    No cars were hit by the crane's arm as it came down around noon, but Rockland County Executive Ed Day wrote on Twitter that three people sustained minor injuries when vehicles swerved and stopped to avoid the wreckage.

    The Coast Guard said the crane's operator was rescued from the water after the collapse.

    Video from a news helicopter showed at least one person being removed from a car and loaded into an ambulance.

    Nicholas D'Emealio, 21, of Irvington, New York, was in a vehicle about three football fields away from the crane, toward the center of the bridge, when he heard a bang and his driver slammed on the brakes.

    "It shook the whole bridge," he said. "At first I thought the bridge was collapsing because this is not a good bridge."

    Everybody was OK, but they were stranded. He and his friends got out of their vehicle and threw around a football to pass the time.

    The base and treads of the large, movable crane sat on the unfinished new bridge, which crosses the river between Westchester and Rockland counties. Officials didn't immediately give the length of the collapsed crane, but part of the broken arm lay across the entire 90-foot, seven-lane width of the old bridge, which runs parallel to the new one. Another section lay across a construction platform in the water between the two spans.

    After the crash, several boats carrying emergency workers maneuvered in the river around the collapsed crane arm, while other workers appeared to be scanning the water around the wreck.

    Rockland County had a helicopter and marine unit at the scene, according to Day. The county executive tweeted that the crane operator was shaken, but not hurt.

    The new Tappan Zee Bridge has been under construction for three years and is expected to be completed by 2018 at a cost of $3.9 billion. It is being built alongside the original Tappan Zee span, which dates to 1955.

    In March, a 90-foot tugboat sank after it hit a construction barge near the bridge site, killing three crew members.

    In 2013, a powerboat plowed into a construction barge at the bridge, killing a bride-to-be and her fiance's best man. The boat's driver, who had nearly twice the legal limit of alcohol in his system, pleaded guilty to vehicular manslaughter and was sentenced to two years behind bars. The victims' families, however, attributed the crash mainly to bad lighting on the barge.

    Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.





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