Baseball honors fallen Arizona firefighters
All home teams to hold moment of silence Monday for 19 killed on Sunday
The loss of 19 elite firefighters while battling a horrific blaze in Arizona on Sunday has the entire nation mourning an unimaginable tragedy.
Baseball, too, will be part of the grieving process.
All seven home clubs on Monday's Major League schedule will honor the memory of the 19 men, all but one of them members of the Prescott (Ariz.) Granite Mountain Hotshots -- a unit trained to fight the most severe wildfires -- with a moment of silence before their games.
On Sunday, 85 miles northwest of Phoenix, near the town of Yarnell, the firefighters were at work battling a monstrous blaze that is believed to have been started by a lightning strike on Friday, amid a region-wide heat wave that saw parts of California reach close to 130 degrees.
"Hotshot" crews are tasked with clearing brush and debris and setting up barriers on the front lines of fires -- in this case, one that had consumed a reported 9,000 acres.
Wind shifts and low humidity can turn the situation deadly very quickly, even for the most experienced, and multiple reports indicate that this is what happened on Sunday in the worst loss of life for firefighters since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, when 343 died at the World Trade Center in New York.
"They were heroes -- highly-skilled professionals who, like so many across our country do every day, selflessly put themselves in harm's way to protect the lives and property of fellow citizens they would never meet," President Barack Obama said.
On Monday, the only Major League team from Arizona, the D-backs, was in New York to play the Mets at Citi Field. But club president and CEO Derrick Hall reacted to the tragedy in a club-wide email, while pledging to assist in recovery efforts.
"As my mood was at a seemingly season-low yesterday after the loss, it quickly became a petty matter when the news of the fire was delivered and all was put back into proper perspective," Hall wrote. "My heart is aching for the fallen firefighters and the entire community turned upside-down by this unfair act of weather and nature. It is devastatingly amazing how quickly our lives can change in a matter of moments.
"We should feel so fortunate to have our health, our homes and our families. And we should feel even more fortunate to be in a position to assist.
"We have challenged a few of our leaders and departments to create a plan today that we can implement this weekend to best recognize those who lost their lives while attempting to protect others, as well as raise funds for a community torn apart.
"Sadly, this tragedy is far from over and more devastating news will continue to be exposed. In the meantime, I ask that you keep the victims and their families in your thoughts and prayers."