Mark Hindy's life remembered on 9/11

Sept. 9, 2011

Mark's father, George Hindy (left) with Chris Wyrick, former director of development

Photos from post 9/11 football game

by Ryan Schulz

Sunday will mark the 10-year anniversary of 9/11, a day that will stick with Americans for the rest of their lives. Nearly 3,000 died on that tragic day. Among those who died was former Vanderbilt baseball player Mark Hindy, who was working at the World Trade Center.

As a tribute to Hindy and every victim of Sept. 11, 2001, Vanderbilt will have a moment of silence before Saturday's game against UConn.

Hindy lettered from 1992-95 for the Commodores under Head Coach Roy Mewbourne. Upon his death, Hindy's family was recognized at the April 27, 2002 dedication of Hawkins Field. To reflect back on Hindy's time with the Commodores as well as his passing, VUCommodores caught up with Mewbourne, who is now the coordinator of athletic development at Middle Tennessee State.

"It is a tradgedy when a young man dies at such a young age," Mewbourne said. "I can't imagine what his parents and his family went through. Mark was such a great teammate, just so well liked by everyone on the team. He was one of those kinds of individuals that always had a smile and was always willing to help you and to be there for you."

Like many Americans, Mewbourne will never forget the moment he heard of the attacks and his thoughts that ensued.

"I was taking my son to his job and I remember hearing about the attacks on the radio," Mewbourne said. "I had known that Mark was working in the World Trade Center and my first thought was, `I know somebody that is there.' I had hoped that Mark was either not there or had gotten out. It was later that I learned that he did not get out."

It's been nearly 10 years since Hindy's tragic death, but his life will never be forgotten by the Vanderbilt family and so many others that he touched during his lifetime.

"I thought he would do great things just because he was so well liked by everybody that he met and all that he did," Mewbourne said. "If you want to pick out a team guy, that would be a team guy. He was a pleasure to coach."

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Quick SlantFollowing the death of Osama bin Laden in May, Vanderbilt's Director of Communications, Rod Williamson penned a column about what the day of the attacks and weeks that followed felt like within the Vanderbilt athletic department. Williamson also writes about the baseball game played in Hindy's honor.

by Rod Williamson

It was a typical Tuesday morning in McGugin Center.

The Beanery, the informal coffee klatch that attracted a handful of early birds, was breaking up. As I headed toward my office, Associate Athletic Director Steve Franks beckoned from behind his desk across the hall.

"Hey Rocket, come in here. A plane just flew into the World Trade Tower. It's on TV."

I watched over Steve's shoulder as the dark smoke billowed near the top of North Tower, wondering like most Americans what could cause such a screw-up. It was unclear what had occurred: how big was the airplane? How much damage? Aside from assuming the pilot was a goner, was anyone else hurt?

I vaguely recall the CNN reporter mentioning that a small plane had once flown into the Empire State Building. Had history repeated itself? I resumed the trek to my own desk where a pile of work awaited. I hadn't taken more than a few strides when Steve shouted "another plane just hit the South Tower!"

The rest of the day remains a muddled blur. A bunch of us huddled around Steve's television, shocked beyond belief. I don't remember anyone saying anything except "Oh My God." Then came word that another plane had crashed into the Pentagon. We were dumbstruck; for the moment we had seen more than our emotions could digest. I wandered to my office, work no longer on my mind.

We had a weekly senior manager's meeting scheduled at 9 o'clock and the record will show that it was never officially cancelled; nobody needed that notification.

I sat alone for a while, head in hands, and wondered if I had seen America's last "normal" day, if everything I knew was going to disintegrate. What else would happen? Then unconfirmed reports came in that a fourth plane had crashed in rural Pennsylvania. The sky was falling. I called family members.

Everyone has their own memory of that day of infamy. We became teammates. There were small acts of kindness everywhere - the workplace, the interstates, the grocery store aisles, the neighborhoods. Church attendance increased. Funny how race, religion and political differences evaporate in the face of a grave and common threat.

My recollection is that within hours, word began to spread that the weekend sports activities would be cancelled or postponed. The Southeastern Conference soon issued a statement that all events that weekend were off. Our football game at Ole Miss was being pushed back to Dec. 1 and other than some necessary logistical maneuvering, nobody questioned the decision. It was a moment when sports seemed trivial.

We encouraged our student-athletes to discuss the tragedy with friends, coaches and staff, or trained counselors. Slowly but surely we regained our equilibrium, bolstered by images of our president atop the rubble at Ground Zero and nonstop media coverage of bravery and heartbreak. I quickly came to hate the leader of those 19 hijackers, the mad man Mohamed Atta. I can still envision his evil face.

I don't remember much about that season. What I do recall is that the national anthems were taken seriously and that ROTC color guards, who previously had entered amid various degrees of fan attention, began receiving prolonged standing ovations for merely stepping onto the playing field and court.

After pushing the Ole Miss game to the season finale, we played Richmond on Sept. 22. It was a step toward normalcy during the most bizarre autumn Baby Boomers had ever experienced.

We sadly learned that Mark Hindy, a Commodore pitcher from 1992-1995, was among the 2,752 who died in the World Trade Towers and we dedicated a baseball game in his honor. We played Mississippi State and Mark's father (above left with Director of Development Chris Wyrick) was on hand; he knew his son would not want a moment of silence - that wasn't his style, so he asked for a standing ovation for America. The enthusiastic, emotional ovation continued for minutes. Today, a cross made of Trade Tower rubble rests in a trophy case in McGugin Center's lobby in Mark's honor and memory.

These and other memories came to mind Sunday night when network news broke into programming with the urgent bulletin "Osama Bin Laden has been killed by United States forces."

The most hated man since Adolf Hitler was dead and celebrations were breaking out on this campus, across our great country and throughout the world.



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