The stage could not have been better set on that October night at Yankee Stadium for a moment of drama. What could be better than the Yankees hooking up with their arch-rival Boston Red Sox, who at the time had not made a world series appearance since 1918, for the final game of the ALCS.
Baseball Almanac attests to the unbelievable see-saw battle that stretched to the 11th inning publishing the Baseball Almanac of the game with this tag:
"The box score below is an accurate record of events for the baseball contest played on October 16, 2003 at Yankee Stadium. The New York Yankees defeated the Boston Red Sox and the box score is “ready to surrender its truth to the knowing eye.”"
The game began innocently enough with an epic battle looming between Roger Clemens and Pedro Martinez. Clemens lasted only three innings surrendering four runs on six hits, exiting to a chorus of cheers (he did not look up to acknowledge the fans) from the crowd of 56,279. Martinez excelled, going seven strong innings and surrendering only two runs.
Red Sox Manager, Grady Little, then made a decision that would haunt him forever, deciding to send and obviously tiring Martinez out to start the eighth. And before anyone knew it, the Yankees put three runs on the board to tie the game Later; Little would plead his case to the New York Daily News, saying:
"Little argued that “Pedro wanted to stay in there. He wanted to get the job done just as he has many times for us all season long and he’s the man we all wanted on the mound.”"
But the damage was done, Roger Clemens was saved from ending his career as a loser in a Yankees uniform, and “The Sandman” was waiting in the bullpen to face the Red Sox as the game moved on to extra innings.
Mariano Rivera, the eventual winning pitcher, threw three scoreless innings in the ninth, 10th and 11th. Rivera retired nine of the 11 hitters he faced. He struck out Doug Mirabelli for the final out of the 11th on a 96-mph fastball. After the game, he was named the MVP of the series.
But, it would be the little known, but soon to become well known Aaron “Bleepin” Boone, who came to bat in the bottom of the eleventh inning to work his magic. Entering the game as a pinch-runner in the eighth, he had experienced a bad series until his epic moment. He didn’t wait long either, crushing Red Sox Knuckleballer Tim Wakefield‘s first pitch in the 11th deep into the left-field stands. (See Video Below)
Later, he told the New York Daily News:
"“Derek Jeter told me sometimes the ghosts show up here. When I joined the Yankees, this is the kind of thing I thought I could be a part of. This is the perfect story ending for everyone – extra innings in Game 7 after a comeback. It’s the perfect ending.”
Boone said he “felt like he was floating” when he hit the ball. “I knew right away I had hit it real good,”"