HOUSTON -- Eleven years ago Tuesday, Alfonso Soriano was a 25-year-old second baseman with the New York Yankees trying to finish off a stellar rookie season.
The whole tone of that season changed on Sept. 11, 2001, when New York City and the country was attacked by terrorists.
On Tuesday, Soriano, now a 36-year-old left fielder with the Cubs, reflected on the experience of playing for a city dealing with a tragedy.
"Eleven years, time flies," Soriano said. "That was my first year in the big leagues. Now it's 11 years. It's a long time."
The Yankees visited Ground Zero shortly after the attacks and quickly had to focus on playoff baseball.
"I just remember when that happened, the most important thing was how we played in the playoffs that year for the city," Soriano said. "We tried to give what the city needed at the moment."
The Yankees knocked off the A's and Mariners to advance to the World Series. In Game 7 against the D-backs in Arizona, Soriano hit a solo homer in the eighth inning to put the Yankees six outs away from a world championship.
The D-backs rallied in the bottom of the ninth, though, and took the title on Luis Gonzalez's walk-off RBI single.
"We came up short, but we played very good," Soriano said. "We won all three games in New York. All three games were very exciting. That motivation was good for a lot of people in New York."
Cubs manager Dale Sveum was home in Arizona on Sept. 11, 2001, a few days after the Double-A Altoona club he managed concluded its season. He saw the news on Good Morning America.
Five members of the first-response team sent from Houston to New York threw out ceremonial first pitches at Minute Maid Park to commemorate the 11th observance of 9/11. Soriano remembered how the Yankees felt giving New York something to cheer about.
"Everybody was proud to give something to the city that it needed at that moment," Soriano said.