Yankees History: Aaron Boone’s postseason moment of glory in 2003
By Scott Roche
It is stuff that players dream about when they are young fans. Game 7 of the American League Championship Series at Yankees Stadium, wearing the pinstripes. One swing of the bat that can be historic. That’s what Aaron Boone faced on a cold October night in 2003.
On a roster filled with stars, sometimes it’s the unlikeliest of heroes that shine in October baseball. That was Boone, who entered the game as a pinch-runner for Ruben Sierra, who drew a pinch-hit walk in the eighth inning. Tied 5-5 with the Red Sox in the bottom of the 11th inning, Boone took advantage of his one opportunity in the batter’s box.
The first pitch he saw to open the inning from Red Sox knuckleballer Tim Wakefield he launched into the left-field seats for a 6-5 win to send the Yankees to the World Series and capture the American League pennant. Boone was just 3-for-16 in the series prior to that at-bat. That was a simple case of throwing the stats out the window.
All that was needed was one good swing and Boone provided it. The game would go down as one of the top moments in Yankees playoff history. Not just because of Boone’s heroics, but also what lead up to his moment three innings earlier.
Trailing Boston ace Pedro Martinez 5-2 in the bottom of the eighth inning and down to their final six outs, with help from Boston manager Grady Little, the Yankees were able to pull off one of the greatest playoff comebacks.
Derek Jeter doubled and a single from Bernie Williams brought the Yanks within 5-3. After a trip to the mound by Little, he incredibly left Martinez in the game. Hideki Matsui delivered an RBI double and then a bloop double from catcher Jorge Posada tied the game.
From there, the game was turned over to the Hall of Famer Mariano Rivera who pitched three scoreless innings on 48 pitches to set the stage for Boone against Wakefield in the home half of the 11th.
On a roster filled with anyone else that could have been a hero, it was Boone to the rescue for the Yankees with his pennant-winning blast. His home run is often mentioned with Bucky Dent’s blast at Fenway Park in the one-game playoff in 1978 as memorable postseason homers.
The Yankees would go on to lose the World Series to the then-Florida Marlins, but at least on one night in October 2003, the Yankees future manager had his moment to shine.