MILWAUKEE (AP) As World War II raged, President Franklin D. Roosevelt ordered baseball games to go on to boost the country”s morale.

Paul Wong
Members of baseball”s Colorado Rockies warm up on the Bank One Ballpark field in Phoenix.<br><br>AP PHOTO

Baseball has been a healing force during national tragedies, and it may be again as the United States deals with Tuesday”s terrorist attacks in New York and Washington.

For now, though, it”s too soon.

“The greatest country in the history in the world is being attacked,” commissioner Bud Selig said. “So all of this (baseball) doesn”t mean very much.”

Though the playoffs are less than three weeks away, Selig postponed the entire schedule of games for Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday “in the interest of security and out of a sense of deep mourning.” He didn”t know when games would resume.

“I think many people would hope we”d start Friday,” Selig said. “But I haven”t made that judgment yet. I”m not close to making it.”

Even before Wednesday”s schedule was called off, the Chicago White Sox headed out of New York, going by bus to Cleveland.

“We”re leaving,” manager Jerry Manuel said.

There was no word if the games would be made up, but Houston Astros owner Drayton McLane said Wednesday morning he was confident games were being postponed, not canceled completely.

“There are so few games and pennant races are still very, very tight,” said McLane, whose Astros lead the NL Central by five games. “Just one or two games could alter who ultimately wins the pennant.”

Aside from work stoppages, it”s the first time since World War I in 1918 that consecutive days of regular-season play were wiped out.

Atlanta pitcher John Burkett, at home in Dallas following an off-day, borrowed the SUV of former teammate Rusty Greer and planned to drive about 850 miles to Atlanta, where he had been scheduled to pitch against the Philadelphia Phillies on Wednesday.

“I felt obligated to my team to be there,” he said. “I would”ve felt sick watching the game at home, knowing I could”ve and should”ve been there, but wasn”t.”

Baseball”s quarterly meeting, scheduled to begin Tuesday afternoon in Milwaukee, also was canceled.

Owners had several pressing issues to discuss with the current labor agreement expiring Oct. 31, but none seemed very important in the aftermath of the attacks.

“We can”t worry about our game, our business,” Arizona Diamondbacks owner Jerry Colangelo said. “What were we all doing here? The people who were here, waiting for a meeting to take place. How silly.”

Because the meeting wasn”t scheduled to start until late afternoon, most owners planned to fly to Milwaukee on Tuesday morning. About a quarter made it, and spent their day huddled around televisions at the Pfister Hotel, watching in horror as images from New York and Washington flashed across the screen.

Selig and his Milwaukee staff joined them after their office, housed in the city”s tallest building, was evacuated as a precaution.

“It”s a change in our way of life, that”s what we have to accept,” said Vince Naimoli, controlling owner of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. “So everything else pales in comparison.”

Selig couldn”t stop thinking of President Bush, a good friend and former owner of the Texas Rangers.

“We always kid each other about who has the most difficult job,” Selig said. “I”ve got to worry about games, he”s got to worry about life and death. That”s a big, big difference.”

Last week, Selig and his wife were in New York and visited the World Trade Center.

“I hadn”t been there in awhile,” Selig said. “Now to believe that they don”t exist anymore. It”s beyond human comprehension. There is nothing in any of our backgrounds to even begin to prepare you for this.”

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