The New York Yankees’ 2003 season was filled with both jubilation and disappointment. On one late night, 11th inning, ALCS Game 7, Aaron Boone belted a Tim Wakefield knuckler over the left field wall to send Yankee Stadium into hysteria.
The dramatic home run lifted the Yankees over the Red Sox and set up a meeting with the Marlins in the World Series. The series was billed as the big spending Yankees versus the low-payroll National League champions.
The Yankees rotation was loaded. There was Andy Pettitte (21-8), Roger Clemens (17-9), Mike Mussina (17-8) and David ¨Boomer¨Wells (15-7). Behind them was Mariano Rivera, who was untouchable all season with 40 saves.
And the Yankees lineup was stacked too. Derek Jeter batted .324, Jason Giambi hit 41 home runs, Alfonso Soriano added 38 and Jorge Posada had 30, in one of the greatest seasons of his career. Bernie Williams hit his 19th postseason homer and collected his 65th postseason RBI to claim the top spot in both in MLB history. ¨Bernie, Bernie, Bernie!¨ And newly signed Hideki Matsui became the first Japanese player to hit a World Series home run.
With all of this, the Yanks won 101 games to claim the American League East title, topped the Minnesota Twins in the Divisional Series, and broke the Red Sox’ hearts in the ALCS on Boone´s shot.
But the Marlins, primarily behind the pitching of Josh Beckett and the hitting of Miguel Cabrera, won the World Series in six games. Speculation continues to this day of how that happened. Pitch replays time after time revealed that Marlins pitchers got the benefit of strike calls that Yankees´pitchers didn´t. There seemed to be two strike zones, one for Beckett and the Marlins and another for the Yanks. So, despite outscoring the Marlins in the series, the Yankees were unable to prevail.
Still, the 2003 season will always be remembered most for the knuckle ball that Boone sailed into the left field stands, clinching the American League Pennant.