Today is Aaron Boone‘s birthday, and I thought it would be fun to celebrate the occasion by trading war stories about the night that Boone vanquished the hated Red Sox and sent the Yankees to the 2003 World Series with one swing of the bat. I’ll get things started.
I was a sophomore in Queens College at the time, and one of my professors saw fit to schedule a midterm that night. I finished the exam at about 9:15 and headed out to my father’s car, as he had come to pick me up and take me home. When I got in, he gave me the bad news: the Yankees were down 4-0 in the 4th, Roger Clemens had just been knocked from the game, and Mike Mussina was entering with two on and nobody out. In a way, this was a good thing, as I had missed all of the excruciatingly bad stuff and got to see the exciting comeback. Of course, I did not know it at the time, which made for an mind-numbing 3 hours.
Mussina got a strikeout and a double play to escape from the jam, and my father pulled into our driveway just as Jason Giambi took Pedro Martinez deep to cut the deficit to 4-1. I settled down in front of the television alone, as is my wont in elimination games. The innings began to disappear and the Yankees seemed to be running out of time, and I could feel the knot in the pit of my stomach tightening with each successive out. The bottom of the 7th came and played with my emotions, as Giambi homered again to cut the lead to 4-2. However, the Yankees put two on with two out, and I destroyed a remote against the wall when Alfonso Soriano flailed at strike 3 to end the threat. When David Wells gave up a homer to David Ortiz to make it a 3 run game again, all seemed lost.
Then came the 8th inning. Trot Nixon misplayed Jeter’s double, Bernie singled, Grady Little went insane, Matsui doubled, Grady Little remained insane, Posada blooped a double into short center field and I, like many Yankees fans, was euphoric. A Yankee victory seemed inevitable at that point. However, the Yankees left the bases loaded in that inning, and then both teams traded zeroes through the top of the 11th. Mariano Rivera pitched all three innings for the Yankees, a herculean effort that looked like it was going to be wasted, as the Yankees entered the 11th with Boone, Karim Garcia, and a struggling Alfonso Soriano slated to hit and Jose Contreras warming in the pen.
And then, out of nowhere, Boone sent a shot deep into the October night, over the left field fence and into Yankee lore. I could try to explain that moment, that feeling of pure joy and euphoria, the kind of feeling that leads a 20 year old to yell out on the top of his lungs and just laugh uncontrollably while standing alone in a room with the sounds of Yankee Stadium and the glow of the television as his only companion. But any such description would come up short, and I’m sure most of you experienced it yourself on that fine autumn night. Chime in below with your own recollection of that night, and click here to hear Boone’s version.
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