Diamondbacks all-star with his family

Luis Gonzalez [center] with family

PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- Almost everyone is pausing on this Patriot' s Day to remember the terrorist attacks that changed our world 19 years ago.

Arizona Diamondbacks All-star Luis Gonzalez has a unique perspective of "then and now," the only two times in history, pro sports suspended play.

We talked with him from his home here in the Valley, where he's now spending more quality time with family.

Diamondback all-star with his family in 2001 and now

Arizona Diamondbacks All-star Luis Gonzalez has a unique perspective of "then and now," the only two times in history, pro sports suspended play.

"It's given us more, more time together to do bicycle rides, walking in the neighborhood, just doing things that you wouldn't normally do, especially when the kids get older and they start to do their own things with their friends, but this has given us an opportunity to kind of regroup and slow things down," Gonzalez said.

He says the coronavirus pandemic putting professional sports on hold takes him back to the last time major league baseball suspended all games. It was 19 years ago, just as the Diamondbacks were headed for the World series.

"Those were the biggest games of our careers and our lives, but we realized that there was something bigger in life than just going out there and playing sports," Gonzalez said.

The team wound up facing the New York Yankees in New York, one month after 9/11.

"We understood the magnitude of how important these games were for them as well as everyone in the country," Gonzalez said.

He will never forget visiting Ground Zero with the team.

"It was a very eye-opening experience. All of us were in shock and disbelief," he said in a 3TV interview from 2001.

"The storybook ending would have been for them to win the World Series, especially with everything that was going on," Gonzalez said.

New York swept those three games at Yankee Stadium, bringing the series back to Arizona.

Gonzo's walk-off hit, 2-2, bottom of the 9th inning, bases loaded, made history bringing home the first, and so far, only title for the franchise.

He says baseball gave people a reason to come together again to celebrate.

And lately, with all the protests, politics, a pandemic, the fears, and differences that divide us today, he figures, we could maybe use some sports to level the field.

"Just being able to forget about everything, either cheer for your favorite players, your favorite team, or 'boo' the people that you don't like, but it's common ground for everybody," Gonzalez said.

Like we did back then, he hopes we can again recognize how much stronger we are when we come together.

"We have to do this together. I think the division, whether it's, you know, politics or anything else that's going on, it's been unfortunate. In the end, all we have is each other, we have our family and our friends, so we have to try to come together and find some type of unity," Gonzalez said.

He's grateful for the unseen heroes who give us the rights and freedom to speak our minds.

"I always say, 'Our country has done a phenomenal job of making all our games road games.' So, our military is fighting for us, not here in our country, but away," Gonzalez said.

He hopes we honor their sacrifices by finding ways to give back to them.

"There's a lot of innocent young kids that go out there and never come home back to their families. And I think that sometimes we lose perspective of everything that's going on in life because we get so self-centered and worried about everything that's going on in our lives that we forget about all the people that have sacrificed for us in the past, and now in the present," Gonzalez said.

Nicole Crites anchors 3TV's Good Evening Arizona weekdays. Nicole also digs deep into issues affecting Arizonans.  You'll see her reports on 3TV News at 9 p.m.
 
 

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