By Jason Klein
(Today is the 10 Year Anniversary of Aaron Boone’s miraculous ALCS Game 7 HR. The 11th inning walk-off blast sent the Yankees to the World Series, and preserved the Bambino’s Curse for at least one more season. The Following Post Can Be Read, In Its Original Form, As I wrote on 10/17/03)
Babe, Bucky, Buckner…Boone.
At 16 minutes past midnight on Friday morning, Aaron Boone added his name to the list. Aaron “Bleepin’” Boone. Tied at 5 in the bottom of the 11th inning of game 7 of the ALCS, Boone sent Tim Wakefield’s first pitch through the Bronx sky, and safely into the hands of George Herman Ruth sitting out in the left field stands.
“Like Derek [Jeter] told me, the ghosts will show up eventually,” Boone said.
With an early 4-0 deficit, and Roger Clemens out of the game, the 56,297 in attendance were wondering just when the Great Bambino planed on showing up. He probably just got caught up in traffic following the water main break on the Deagon. He showed up 8 innings late to the party, but the Babe arrived in time to see the Yanks capture their 39th American League pennant in dramatic fashion, coming from 3 down in the 8th inning, to win the game 6-5 in 11 innings. Boone’s walk off, series ending blast punctuated the evening.
“I knew it was out, I finally put a good swing on it,” he said.
It’s a swing that will long be remembered, perhaps one of the most dramatic of all time. One swing of the bat from Boone ended the most compelling, evenly matched series in Major League Baseball history, sending Yankee Stadium into a frenzy and the Red Sox home for the winter.
“This was our chance to get the World Series,” Boston’s Johnny Damon said. “And we were so close.”
“This is the best, said Yankees manager Joe Torre. “To come here and play against the Red Sox, and play them 26 times and beat our rival like we did, it couldn’t be more satisfying. This has to be the sweetest taste of all for me.
However, early on things were rather sour in the Bronx. The Sox got to Clemens early, tagging the Rocket for 6 hits and 4 runs through only 3 innings. Clemens’ ineffectiveness, coupled with Pedro Martinez’s brilliance was a sure sign of a pinstriped apocalypse. Many wondered if this would be the night the curse was broken.
Jason Giambi, batting out of the 7 hole, delivered 2 solo shots and Mike Mussina’s 3 scoreless innings of relief kept the Bombers in the game, but it wasn’t until that fateful 8th inning when the Empire finally struck back.
The Captain, Derek Jeter got it all started with a double to right, and Bernie Williams knocked him in with a single to make it 5-3. After a Hideki Matsui double, Red Sox Manager Grady Little went out to meet with Martinez. After some convincing, Pedro stayed in the game and gave up a game tying double to Jorge Posada. Red Sox 5, Yankees 5.
That’s the way it would stay until the 11th, thanks to a flawless 3 innings of relief from the incomparable Mariano Rivera. It was the first time Rivera had thrown 3 innings in a game since 1996.
“Words can’t describe him, he is a cartoon character,” Jason Giambi said of Rivera.
After Boone hit, what former Mayor Rudolph Guliani deemed “the best home run since Chris Chambliss in ’76,” the Yankees were World Series bound for the first time since 2001. They will be fishing for Marlin starting Saturday night in the Bronx.
That challenge can wait until then. For now, New York revels in its latest dance with destiny. They came from behind to beat Pedro, Wakefield, and an entire Red Sox nation that holds little regard for the aura and mystique found season after season in the Bronx.
“I believe in ghosts,” Derek Jeter said when asked if there was something to the Curse. “And we have a lot of ghosts in this Stadium.”
Those Cowboys from New England may not agree with Jeter, but they surely have heard of the killer “B’s” that continue to haunt them every year.
Babe, Bucky, Buckner…and now Boone.
“Go back to Boston boys. Goodbye,” said George Steinbrenner following game 7. “They didn’t treat us very well in Boston, but you know, we get the last laugh.”
Bye Bye, Boston.
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