One series. 7 games. 3 pitches. 2 homers. One broken bat walk-off single. These words encapsulate my favorite Yankees’ memory, the 2001 World Series against the Arizona Diamondbacks. I wasn’t in-person to witness the event but it happened over a series of days and was the most amazing thing I have ever seen. I was just starting to understand baseball strategy and enjoyed writing out the pitching rotations and lineups. I began to realize that both of these teams were loaded with talent: young and old, rotation and lineup, defense and bullpen. What I did not know was that this would turn out to be one of the best World Series of all-time.
The series was just after 9/11 and the excitement surrounding the team helped to lift the spirits of New Yorkers. The Yankees were outplayed badly and lost Games #1 and #2 in Bank One Ballpark. The Yankees won a close Game #3. Games #4 and #5 were the craziest games I’ve ever seen. Game #4 was played on Halloween. The Yankees were down 3-1 in the 9th inning. Paul O’Neill hit an opposite-field single. With 2 outs Tino Martinez stepped to the plate and launched a two-run shot to right-centerfield. Later on, the clock passed midnight and Derek Jeter was due up. He hit an opposite field home run off Byung-Hyun Kim. Jeter became “Mr. November”.
The same series of events happened the next night. The Yankees were down 2 runs with 1 out remaining. This time Jorge Posada provided the base runner with a double. Scott Brosius tied it with a moonshot to left field. All against the same pitcher from the previous night, Byung-Hyun Kim. As Yogi Berra would say, “deja vu all over again.” I couldn’t believe it. Yankee Stadium became magical to me and the Yankees were invincible. Mystique and aura actually appeared nightly. Unfortunately the Yankees lost Game #6 and forced a winner-take-all Game #7.
My favorite Yankees’ moment (or series of moments) also includes my worst nightmare. I try to forget the sequence of events but the infallible Mariano Rivera blows the save and then gives up a broken bat single over the drawn-in infield. The base hit won the World Series for the Diamondbacks and effectively ended the late-90s dynasty as cornerstones like Paul O’Neill retired and the franchise didn’t win the World Series again until 2009.
Those nine days were very special for me as a Yankees fan. I was starting to really study the game of baseball while witnessing some of the best games ever played. Games #4,#5, and #7 were instant classics and my Yankee and baseball fandom was solidified for life.