Yankees: 7 clutch playoff moments that deserve more praise
By Adam Weinrib
1. Paul O’Neill’s ’96 World Series Catch Ends Game 5
It’s important to note that Paul O’Neill was battling a hamstring injury during the team’s run to the 1996 title, but it’s also kind of … not important? After all, O’Neill was seemingly always battling something, and never let it affect his play one iota.
Healthy or not, the “get up and go” was always turned to the maximum for O’Neill, and of course the final out of a 1-0 World Series game on the road found his mitt — but only after a severely strenuous effort, even for a non-hobbled man.
With the tying run on third and the go-ahead man on first, Luis Polonia torched a liner into the gap that probably should’ve undone the Yanks’ miraculous 0-2 three-game comeback in Atlanta.
But then O’Neill lumbered into the picture. He sprinted, to the best of his ability. And he thwapped his glove in the air at the furthest point it could possibly travel to corral the baseball that would send New York on the happiest flight of their lives.
Two days later, O’Neill was rolling over the top of a championship dogpile, his hamstrings now a complete non-issue.
They’d given all they had to give, after all. You’ll never see a more clutch job of tracking a fly ball to completion.