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Oklahoma City RedHawks hitting coach remembers cousin, a New York City firefighter who responded on 9/11

Keith Bodie's cousin, Nicholas Chiofalo, a New York City firefighter, lost his life responding to the World Trade Center attack on Sept. 11, 2001.
by Bryan Painter Published: September 11, 2011

Keith Bodie was leaning against the back of the batting cage at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, sweat trickling from his short sideburns.

The coach had just finished throwing batting practice to the Kansas City Royals' first group of hitters that day and was now watching the second group.

The 45-year-old was living a dream. After 28 years in professional baseball — as a player and a coach — he'd finally made it to the Major League level.

Having led the Royals' Double-A team at Wichita to the playoffs for the second straight year, he was rewarded with a September call-up to the parent club as a coach.

But with every step a security guard took coming down those steps at Kaufman, that dream gave way to a full-fledge nightmare. This was September 2001 and Keith — born and raised in Brooklyn, N.Y. — was asked to go with the guard to the office.

There, he learned that on the previous day, Sept. 11, 2001, his cousin, Nicholas Chiofalo, a New York City firefighter, had responded after the first plane slammed into the World Trade Center. Nick last was seen entering Tower Two to help evacuate people not long before it came down.

Keith remembers as a child the day a school official walked into his class. Without the person saying anything, he knew he was there for him. And he was right. Keith went to the office where his uncle, Gasper Chiofalo, was waiting to tell him his father, Robert Bodie, a warrant officer for the New York City Police Department, had suffered a heart attack at work and died.

Getting the news

“I saw the security guard coming down the stairs in Kansas City and I'm going, ‘This guy wants me,'” said Bodie, a hitting coach this past season with the Oklahoma City RedHawks. “He comes over and goes ‘Who's Keith Bodie?'”

The guard got Bodie to a phone, where he learned of his cousin's death from his wife. His uncle had told her.

Bodie said it's important to understand that Nicholas, 39, wasn't a firefighter for the paycheck. He was a firefighter for the people of New York.

“He brought unselfishness to this world,” Keith said. “He put other people ahead of himself, always.”

Many Oklahomans lost family members that horrible day, as did many with Oklahoma ties, either then or now, such as Keith Bodie. His story is but one example of loved ones lost and memories of those loved ones cherished.

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by Bryan Painter
Assistant Local Editor
Bryan Painter, assistant local editor, has 31 years’ experience in journalism, including 22 years with the state's largest newspaper, The Oklahoman. In that time he has covered such events as the April 19, 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah...
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