I never actually met Mike Weinberg.
But back in the late 1980s, Mike was a slugging outfielder for St. John’s University. I recall him vividly, because in 1987, I was serving as the color commentator on the Madison Square Garden Network’s coverage of Big East Baseball, and Weinberg was one of those players who stood out.
A big, strapping kid with a powerful stroke at the plate, Mike had a solid career at SJU, including being the star at the Big East playoffs in 1988 – he was named the top performer there, and eventually Mike was good enough to play for two seasons in the Detroit Tigers’ organization. Upon finishing his baseball career, Mike became a New York City fire fighter. And that’s how we get to 9/11.
On that fateful morning, Mike had a day off, and was waiting for a tee time at a golf course in Queens when he heard the news about the planes hitting the towers. Not only as a dedicated fire fighter did Mike jump into his car and race downtown, but he had another personal reason: his sister Patricia worked for Morgan Stanley on the 72nd floor of one of the towers.
Tragically, Mike was one of the very first to arrive on the horrible scene, and as cruel irony would have it, he was one of the first to perish. As the first tower collapsed, Mike instinctively tried to protect himself by crawling under a bus. As debris from the tower rained down on him and his colleagues, he died instantly.
However – and of course, unknown to Mike — his sister Patricia had made her way down the endless stairway and found her way to safety. I think it’s safe to say that none of us will ever forget that stunning morning. Clearly Patricia will never, ever forget it.
As noted earlier, I never personally knew Mike Weinberg. I was a TV talking head yakking simply about his baseball talents. But even then, back in the 1980s, I was impressed with this young man.
People always wonder if they have the inner stuff to become a hero. I don’t know if there’s any way to know that until a real crisis hits. But I do know this: Mike Weinberg – a terrific ballplayer from St. John’s — stepped up to the plate when it counted the most, and became a hero for the ages.
God bless Mike and his family.