With the 20th anniversary of 9/11 approaching this weekend, and the Mets and Yankees set to play a three-game set for the second act of the Subway series, several fans of both teams alike lost loved ones in the infamous attacks two decades ago.
One individual in particular, Jimmy Quinn, the middle child of three brothers, was among those taken way too soon at just 23-years-old, working in the North Tower of the World Trade Center.
Jimmy, like his brothers, was a hardcore fan of the New York Mets, and had an obsession with his favorite player, Mike Piazza.
Unfortunately, like the majority of those lost in the 9/11 attacks, Jimmy's body was never recovered from the fallen rubble, leaving his family and friends with no place to go to honor his life.
However, Jimmy's love for the Mets gave his brothers, Joe and Michael, along with his best friend Billy Carroll, a special idea of how to honor him. By gathering family and friends for an annual event at a Mets game of course.
"It's a deep connection to baseball and a deep connection to the Mets," Michael Quinn, the oldest of the three brothers, told Inside the Mets in an exclusive zoom interview.
"For 10 years, before the memorial was built with his name on the north pool, there was just no place to kind of remember and honor him," said younger brother and former Army Captain Joe Quinn. "So Shea Stadium, and now Citi Field, became the one time of year where family and friends gathered around people we were most comfortable with, which is Mets fans and it was a positive way to sort of remember him."
"It was just that same way you might go to a grave site and leave a flower for an uncle or a grandfather or someone that you love," said Joe. "Like we went to the Mets game every year, and that's how we honored and remembered him."
As many can recall, Mike Piazza's dramatic go-ahead home run against the Atlanta Braves that occurred 10 days after 9/11 made the city feel together again. Well, the Quinn family has their own version of this story, as Piazza also crushed a game-winning long ball on the first-ever annual Jimmy Quinn event, the following year.
"For Jimmy's love of Mike Piazza and then for him to hit that legendary home run 10 days after 9/11, and then for the first annual game for Piazza to hit a home run to win the game, It was sort of a wink to the family and to Jimmy that, you know, he's still working his magic."
According to Joe and Michael, this game helped them get back to everyday life by realizing it was okay to move on from the grieving process, as hard as that was to do after suffering such a tragedy.
"The game started and we were just Mets fans and baseball fans," said Joe. "I know Mike and I questioned If it was okay to experience joy again, like that was a real question 20 years ago. And as soon as Mike Piazza hit that home run, it was just organic and it sent a message that we can experience joy."
Fast forward 20 years later to 2021, where the Quinn's will be hosting their annual event to honor Jimmy once more, this upcoming Saturday. Only this time, there will be a pregame ceremony held in his honor by the Mets as well.
The Quinns will be in section 436 in Citi Field, where they have 100 tickets for the big night. They will also be wearing their custom-made shirts for the event, which are bright orange and have Jimmy's name on the front, and their last name, Quinn, on the back.
All proceeds from the sales of this year's shirt will be donated to the 3 Brothers Foundation, which is a non-profit created by the Quinn brothers to honor Jimmy. This foundation is dedicated to organizations that provide support for social, educational and mental health services to military heroes and service members, along with their families.
This year, Joe Quinn, a former Army Captain who attended the United States Military Academy at West Point, will be honored by the Mets, as the veteran of the game on Saturday. They will also display a picture of his late-brother Jimmy on the jumbotron during this contest.
"I think it'll be the same thing 20 years later where there will be a ceremony. There will be tears, and I know I will be emotional and crying," said Joe. "But baseball will be played and, you know, given the anemic offense this year, we'll see what happens. But only if they give us at least one hit or one run or God willing, a win for us to cheer about and I think that's what it's all about. I think you got destiny and some higher power on your side there."
With the 20th anniversary of 9/11 setting up to be a special weekend, the Quinn's are hoping to receive a sign from their brother, letting them know that he is right there with them.
And through all the stress and emotions that this event brings along with it, the ultimate goal is to honor and remember their brother Jimmy, a die-hard and crazy Mets fan.
The grandmother of the Quinn brothers was an immigrant from Ireland and later became a Brooklyn Dodgers season ticket holder, which was her claim to becoming an official American, as Michael Quinn said.
Their mom got them into baseball, according to Joe and Michael. She became a Mets fan growing up and used to take the subway to the polo grounds with her cousin, Jimmy. And then afterwards, used to go to games at Shea Stadium often with her friends.
Jimmy went to his first Mets game at the young age of 9-years-old in 1986, where then second baseman Wally Backman handed him the game-winning ball and ever since then, he became hooked on being involved in the game and meeting/ interacting with the players. He would fly to spring training every year with his friend, and he just couldn't get enough of his Mets.
And the rest is history, as his brothers said, Jimmy always had a knack for finding himself in the right place at the right time when it came to sporting events.
He even got to meet his favorite player, Piazza, and take a picture with him. But that was only the tip of the iceberg for Jimmy, who somehow found his way to a private event, or in this case, a dream come true, at Sports Illustrated's Top 50 Athletes of All-Time party.
Admittedly, Joe and Michael were not as into baseball at first. It was Jimmy who would drag them to games often. However, after Jimmy's passing, Joe and Michael became die-hard fans themselves as it helped them connect with their late-brother.
Back in 2015, the Brooklyn brothers revived Feltman's of Coney Island, America's first and original hot dog company, named after Charles Feltman who invented the hot dog.
Joe and Michael brought back this business on Coney Island to honor their brother, Jimmy, and it is currently one of the fastest growing hot dog companies in the United States of America.