Seven years ago, I was a freshman in college. The country was just seven weeks removed from the horrible events of Sept. 11, and the Yankees were battling it out against the Diamondbacks in the World Series as the city poured its heart and soul into the games.
The night before, I had been at Yankee Stadium. Of course, I had leaped at the chance to go to game three of the World Series. With the Yanks down 2-0 to the Diamondbacks, they needed a win and got a solid, steady performance. As I returned to suburban Philadelphia and settled in to watch the rest of the series from the couch in our lounge, little did I realize the excitement and utter heartbreak the next five days would bring.
Halloween in 2001 was a Wednesday, and this midweek game would pit Curt Schilling against Orlando Hernandez. Prior to the game, Schilling lambasted the Yankee Stadium mystique and aura. He said that mystique and aura sounded more like cheap strippers than anything related to baseball. Little did Curt realize who would show up in the 9th and 10th innings.
For seven innings, Schilling and El Duque put on a show. Curt struck out nine in seven innings and gave up just three hits. The only blemish on his record was a Shane Spencer home run in the third. El Duque allowed eight baserunners in 6.1 innings, but Mike Stanton got Tony Womack to hit into a double play. Through seven, the game was knotted at one.
In the top of the eighth, Arizona broke through and carried a two-run lead into the bottom of the ninth. The Yanks were in trouble, and I and my fellow Yankee fans were slumping on the couches, dejected at the thought of a 3-1 Diamondbacks lead in the World Series. Byung-Hyun Kim was due to pitch, and he had been stellar that year with 113 strike outs in 98 innings.
Derek grounded out, but a Paul O’Neill single kept the inning alive. After Bernie Williams struck out, the Yanks’ fortunes rested on the bat of Tino Martinez. The Yanks’ first baseman wasted no time. On the first pitch — BAM! — tie game. Tino’s blast to nearly straight-away center field brought life back to the Yanks. It was his first hit of the series.
Kim would allow two more baserunners that inning, but it wouldn’t be until November that the Yanks would win this game. Shortly after the clock on the scoreboard hit midnight, Derek Jeter blasted a home run into the night as the Yanks drew even with the Diamondbacks.
I went to bed that night quite content. I wondered if I’d ever see anything as dramatic as that Yankee rally in the World Series again. Little did I realize what the next night would bring.