Six years later, Boone’s shot still resonates

NLCS Game Two: Phillies @ Dodgers
Tynan out after anti-Semitic remarks

TV1017_game7

As we await Game 1 of the 2009 ALCS, tonight marks the anniversary of the Yanks’ last American League title. Six years ago, Aaron Boone, an unlikely hero, launched a Tim Wakefield offering into the left field stands to to win one of the best Game 7’s of all time. While I enjoyed the game from the den at my grandparents’ house in Florida, my dad and sister were at Yankee Stadium. My sister, currently in Nicaragua where she will have to watch los playoffs in Spanish, offered up to share her memories of the game. So a guest post by Victoria Kabak on Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS…

During the Octobers that I was 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, and 17 years old, my family employed an elaborate rotation system to determine who went to which playoff games and with which other family member. Sometimes I wasn’t so lucky—the Yanks’ sweeping the 1999 World Series was a mixed blessing, as Ben and I were supposed to go to Game 5 (we each have a framed laser copy of the tickets, but it’s not quite the same).

But sometimes I did get lucky. It was with my dad, sitting on the main level in foul territory in left field, that I witnessed Roger Clemens pick up a piece of a broken bat and hurl it at Mike Piazza in 2000. Ben and I watched Jeter back flip into the stands in the 2001 ALDS against Oakland. All of these times I remember the palpable fervor of the crowd, especially as everyone exited the stadium at the end of the game, barely moving down the ramps and spontaneously erupting into cheers and chants.

Never did I experience a mania that came anywhere close to what I experienced six years ago today. I was 16 and it would appear that luck was on my side for that postseason family rotation. Again with my dad, I sat in the Tier Reserve down the third base line to watch the Yankees and the Red Sox determine who would play in the World Series and who would go home. The game had been going on for over four hours. The series had been going on for seven games. I would either go to school the next day tired and happy, or I would go tired and sad, with the prospect of five and a half boring months without baseball.

The game had already been an exciting one, with a less-than-stellar outing from Roger Clemens, a more-than-stellar relief appearance by Moose, and Pedro Martinez’s blowing the Sox’s three-run lead in the bottom of the 8th. Whatever happened after the 9th inning would be very exciting to one team’s fans. The feeling in the crowd was truly electric.

In the 11th it was really time for the Yanks to wrap it up. Probably the least desirable batter was at the plate—Aaron Boone. I’m sure my dad and I groused, wishing someone else – anyone else – was up.

Of course, as it happens, this is baseball we’re talking about here and the impossible is possible. Aaron Boone, in the peak moment of his career, sent the ball sailing into the seats behind left field. I had the most fleeting sense of worry as I could feel the upper deck literally moving up and down, palpitating below my feet. As the celebration continued, I called my mom, who was watching the game alone at home. I have no idea what, if anything, she said to me, but I know what she heard: a crowd of Yankee fans going wild.

Even though Boone’s homerun came after midnight, on October 17, it is an omen of the highest order that the Yanks are beginning their final push toward the Fall Classic on the sixth anniversary of the day Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS began—the sixth anniversary of a seemingly impossible occurrence. I only hope that the Terrace can shake the way Tier Reserve did.

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NLCS Game Two: Phillies @ Dodgers
Tynan out after anti-Semitic remarks
  • http://www.puristbleedspinstripes.com Rebecca-Optimist Prime

    AARON BLEEPIN’ BOONE =D

    The best t-shirts I saw after that home run read:

    Babe
    Bucky
    Boone

    Any questions?

  • a-god

    is aaron boone a true yankee?

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

      Is that a serious question?

  • thurdonpaul

    terrace shaking would be cool, as long as it doesnt fall down :)
    im going to game 2 , sitting in the terrace level

  • Mike Pop

    I still get excited to this day.

  • Derek

    clemens didnt throw the bat at piazza

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside
      • http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v21/riddering/Baseball/reachforthestaaaaars.jpg Riddering

        Clemens: vampire slayer.

  • Raf

    the fact that this series is starting the same day as game 7 of that series is just crazy. damn this MLB/TV scheduling.

    • Raf

      ha looking at the picture again theres one guy in the bottom left that is the only one not looking toward the direction of the ball. poor Soxs fan.

      • dkidd

        i noticed that. i makes me mad. i’ll take your seat, sir, if you’re not interested in watching the game

  • bryan

    any pinstriper who crushes the hearts of red sox nation is a true yankee :) … btw i read today that aaron boone is retiring so if that is indeed true best of luck to you aaron we will always remember the thrill you gave us in sending the yanks to the world series in ’03

  • http://inthemasses.files.wordpress.com/2009/01/mad-max-poster-1.jpg gxpanos

    Am I the only one who hates this memory?

    Like, I literally don’t like being reminded of it. They proceeded to roll over against the Marlins. And when I think of the ’03 Game 7 it just reminds me of the ’04 Game 7 because it was the same teams, same stadium, consecutive years, etc. etc., and it reminds me of how the Sox actually used the momentum from their dramatic win in the ALCS to actually accomplish something.

    Don’t mean to bang on the guest post or anything.

    • http://www.secondavenuesagas.com Benjamin Kabak

      I think you have to give more credit the Marlins. They had some very good pitching, and the Yanks’ manager didn’t help the cause. Losing the World Series doesn’t lessen the emotion of the Boone game or the experience of being there for it. If the Yanks don’t win the World Series this year, I’ll always remember the crowd and the game I witnessed last Friday night at the Stadium. Same thing for those there on Oct. 16, 2003.

      • http://www.puristbleedspinstripes.com Rebecca-Optimist Prime

        +42

      • http://inthemasses.files.wordpress.com/2009/01/mad-max-poster-1.jpg gxpanos

        I guess Urbina was a good closer. Willis was a rook and the 8th inning guy. Then Beckett. Was that really better than the Yankee pitching that year?

        How are we supposed to take solace in the fact that Torre managed it poorly?

        I wasnt there at the stadium, but I ran around my living room and opened my front door for no reason, yelling the whole time. I remember that distinctly, plus how I felt when Jorge’s hit dunked in and he stood on second and gave that clap after the play. I’m not saying the emotions become cancelled out or that I can no longer recall them.

        Simply, Boone’s homer has become a bad memory to me because it’s surrounded by awful other memories. It reminds me of pain, the opposite of what a good memory does.

    • vin

      Nah, I came to grips with the ’03 WS awhile ago. Sometimes the LCS is really what should count. That’s where the great baseball was.

      It’s like climbing a mountain. One that has a hellacious vertical cliff wall covered in ice that must be scaled. A cliff wall that has never been scaled before. The Yankees did that. They just didn’t bother walking the extra 30 minutes to the summit… because no one will remember that as much as the cliff.

      That’s how I rationalize it anyway.

      • Marsha

        The dad of the author of the guest post agrees with you. He always says that the World Series is anti-climatic and that the ALCS is the true championship series.

        • http://inthemasses.files.wordpress.com/2009/01/mad-max-poster-1.jpg gxpanos

          Oh boy, do I ever disagree with Mr. K.

          I tried that rationalization the day after Beckett’s COMPLETE GAME SHUT OUT. The one IN YANKEE STADIUM.

          It didnt work that day, and not once since.

    • http://newstadiuminsider.com Ross

      I think you’re the only one who feels that way. We have to enjoy the good moments regardless of the eventual outcome of the season. 2001’s heroics will forever be ingrained in my mind. I often times don’t even remember that the Yankees failed to take home #27 that year.

      • http://inthemasses.files.wordpress.com/2009/01/mad-max-poster-1.jpg gxpanos

        I watch the Jeter HR off Kim and the flip play to get Giambi only begrudgingly. If I know one of them is coming, I switch the channel.

    • http://and-that-happened.blogspot.com Evan

      You may not be the only one but you’re certainly the first I’ve seen. I could see how losing in the WS might dull it a little but to the extent you speak about it? It seems odd to me.

  • Rick in Boston

    That night might be the only night I’ve ever been scared to be a Yankee fan in Boston.

  • Sean Serritella

    I was thinking, since the championship game ended today in 2003, why are the Yankees play so late this year? It’s cold outside. I don’t like cold baseball.

    • vin

      When in doubt… blame the WBC.

    • http://www.secondavenuesagas.com Benjamin Kabak

      They’re playing so late to accommodate the World Baseball Classic. Since Spring Training ended later than usual, everything else was pushed back. That we could have a few World Series games in New York or Philadelphia in early November is pretty absurd.

  • vin

    That was such a grueling series… for me as a fan.

    I had class that night, so naturally I planned to blow it off. After seeing the Yanks fall behind 4-0 in the fourth, I decided to go to class. I was giving up on a great team – I couldn’t take the stress anymore, and I was getting ready to move on, emotionally.

    Met up with my buddy (also a Yankee fan and was taking the same class) and went to class. Well he left his laptop on espn gamecast in our studio.

    Got out of class, back to studio – we check gamecast, and its still 4-2. Then we notice it was still the 5th inning, according to gamecast. That couldn’t be right. Get in our respective cars, tune in to the AM station – the Yanks had just tied the game and is now going to the top of the 9th.

    Piece of crap gamecast didn’t refresh on us (as it was prone to do back then). When I heard the score I honked my horn and flashed my lights at him. Called him and we decided to meet at the MGM sports book (we live in Vegas).

    Race to the casino, meet in the parking lot… run to the sports book. Agonize for a couple innings with a thousand other Yankees/Red Sox fans. Then we literally jumped for joy when the ball left Boone’s bat. Awesome day. Not to mention another buddy played hookie that day from work and we hung out and saw Kill Bill vol 1.

    Awesome day all around.

    Still pissed I missed the 8th innings vs. Pedro.

    • http://www.puristbleedspinstripes.com Rebecca-Optimist Prime

      I had my college interview the night of game 6 that year and made no bones about being a huge Yankee fan.

      I didn’t get into my program of choice.

    • Marsha

      The author of the guest post loves Kill Bill, both volumes.

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

        It’s a family reunion in here today!

        The New York Yankees®: Bringing families closer together (and ruining baseball) since 1903™.

      • http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v21/riddering/Baseball/reachforthestaaaaars.jpg Riddering

        The author of this guest post has great taste.

        • Victoria

          It’s true, Kill Bill is my favorite movie.

  • Marsha

    The mom of the author of the guest post was indeed home alone watching the game. By the last inning I was in the bedroom waiting to go to sleep and when Aaron Boone hit that home run I yelled so loud that I’m sure the whole building heard me cheering. And who can sleep after that? Yes, Victoria did call me and yes, I couldn’t hear anything but the crowd, but what an end to a series! I recently asked the dad of the author of the guest post what was his favorite Yankee moment that he witnessed in person. I am still waiting for an answer, but I’m sure Aaron Boone’s homer is in the running for both Victoria and her dad.

  • http://twitter.com/JamalG_BB Jamal G.

    First year I became a Yankees fan, and it’s still the greatest moment in sports history for me.

    • TheLastClown

      Nothing like the fervor of the newly converted, eh?

      • http://twitter.com/JamalG_BB Jamal G.

        Tell me about it, man.

    • Salty Buggah

      That was the 1st year I became a baseball fan. I never really watched it a lot and it was a pretty new game to me. I watched that game because I just liked rooting the Yanks (and Rockies). I saw that HR and didn’t even understand the awesomeness of it until like 3 years later when baseball became my favorite sport to watch. I still can’t believe I saw that game (sometimes I think I didnt watch it but then I remember some guy named Boone hitting a HR and the stadium going crazy. Also, since I didnt understand baseball all that well, I thought Aaron Boone was one of the best players alive for a while until I saw his career stats couple years later) live without understanding it.

  • http://www.tynansanger.com Ethan Stanislawski

    That story about playoff ticket family rotation is familiar. I wonder how many NYC families have similar stories.

    Unfortunately, my dad was the type to leave early when it got too late for his 15 year old son. This meant I left before the 8th inning of game 4 of the 2001 World Series ::sigh::

    • Marsha

      Family motto-NEVER leave until you hear “New York, New York.”

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

        You’re the most awesome mom ever, Marsha.

        • Victoria

          Seconded.

  • Wayne’s World

    The father of the writer of this post notes that the mother of the author of this post is all over this blog. The presence of the author of this post at this game did make the game extra special for the father of the author of this post, who was also in attendance, but the question still remains: which was more exciting…the Boone or the Bucky Dent home run?…The father of the author of this post thinks he knows the answer.

    The fact that the family of the illustrious Ben Kabak is all over this post says something about how the act of going to so many Yankee games over the years drew Ben Kabak’s family even closer together as a family. According to lore,that family went to 8-10 regular season games a year. That’s when tickets were both affordable and attainable. It’s too bad that the son and daughter of the father of the author of this post won’t be able to raise their kids in the same way. We owe that to the greed of the Yankees and the fact that El Jefe Mayor Mike “Hugo Chavez” Bloomberg bent right over for the Yankees.

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

      You guys are freaking Rickey the hell out with all this third person voice everywhere.

      Sincerely,
      Rickey Henderson

    • dkidd

      ben:

      no one in my family cares about baseball or knows what a “blog” is

      if i paid the remainder of their salaries, could we trade?

    • Joe D.

      I am your father’s brother’s nephew’s cousin’s former roommate.

      • http://bronxbaseballdaily.com Matt ACTY/BBD

        Which makes us…?

        • Joe D.

          Absolutely nothing!

          Which is what the Angels are about to become…

          • http://bronxbaseballdaily.com Matt ACTY/BBD

            Well played. Well played.

  • miketotheg

    that was an incredible moment.

    i was in a hotel room in montreal with some friends and when boone hit the dinger i literally jumped up and punched a hole in the ceiling and had plaster chips rain down on me. nobody even heard the boom because of all the yelling and ten minutes later the person who’s room it was finally noticed and didn’t even care. i guess those montreal canadaians are short.

    anyway. great moment.

  • Steve S

    Great post, it really reminds you of what it can be like in the stadium and how special the actual experience is. I got to go to game 2 last week and I saw my first walk off homerun playoff game. It was amazing and I thought the crowd’s energy was comparable, if not better, then what I had seen in other postseason games in the old stadium. I can’t even imagine what a game 7 against the Red Sox no less would be like. That place must have been electric.

  • DSFC

    The real fun of that one for me was getting even in the first place. I was stationed in Okinawa at the time. The game started relatively early in the morning. We were working outside that day and me and my fellow NY native Sgt Cooper grabbed the shop radio and took it out with us to listen to the game on AFN. Falling behind early and struggling against Pedro made us rather ornery. Still, we were looking forward to running over to the USO for lunch to watch the game on the big screen there. Giambi hits his second homer and we’re psyched. We hopped into Coop’s car to stop by the ATM – the USO only took cash. Right before I get out to get money, Ortiz hits his shot off of Wells. I have no appetite left. Still, Coop convinced me to come with him because anything can happen, he says. We get there and the place is packed with jeering Sox fans. Jeter’s double has no effect on them. Bernie knocks in Jeter, and they groan a little and get a little quiet. A few yell at Little. Matsui smacks his double, and now the place is going nuts, as all the Sox fans are screaming at the TV to take Martinez out and shooting us dirty looks as we jump up and down. As Posada plates Bernie and Matsui, half the Sox fans leave in disgust and we went crazy mocking them. Stayed way past when we were supposed to be back from lunch (and got our asses chewed by the gunny, big time – good thing I wasn’t the ranking NCO!) and had to listen to the rest of the game. I can remember groaning when Boone came to bat since he had been so godawful in the playoffs to that point.

  • http://pendingpinstripes.net Greg F.

    I was there. It was amazing.

  • brian

    i still remember where i was that night. I was attending college in VA at the time but my then girlfriend had just transferred to SVA in NYC. So i was up visiting her in New York (my first time ever to the city, and i’m a lifelong yankees fan). We watched the game on TV but things were looking bad. I was upset about it, she turned it off. She asked me to run to the pharmacy on E 23rd street to pick something up and when i get there the clerk is watching the game. I see its tied in the 11th with Boone at bat. I stood there and watched it. When he hit the home run the few people in the store erupted in elation. I was high fiving and hugging complete strangers in a city i’ve never been in. We go on to the street and there were people dancing and celebrating. It was the first time i was able to celebrate a yankee victory like this, as I grew up in New Hampshire. Its probably my single greatest yankee moment outside of my first visit to Yankee Stadium. I wish i could have said i was there at the game, but i felt like for that night, for the first night ever, i was actually a part of it instead of just watching it like so many times before.