All four recognized the significance of the moment as Derek Jeter held the World Series trophy high over his head; 1996, 1998, 1999 and 2000 no longer seemed so far in the past.
"This is what you play for," Jeter said, according to ESPN.com's Jayson Stark. "When you're six, seven, years old, you're out on the field, thinking about being in the World Series, winning the World Series. And it's always something special to be able to do it."
Andy Pettitte, who won the clinching game of the 2009 World Series against the Philadelphia Phillies, was his usual modest self. "I just feel very fortunate, very blessed, to be healthy right now and to be able to pitch in the postseason here and help this team win," he said.
Pettitte took a 7-1 lead into the sixth inning when Ryan Howard touched him for a two-run home run. After Raul Ibanez doubled, Joba Chamberlain took over.
After Damaso Marte struck out Howard leading off the eight inning, Mariano Rivera entered the game. Jeter was asked if he thought that meant the game was over.
"It's over in everybody's mind. I mean, he's human," Jeter said. "He's going to give up some runs here and there. But a four-run lead? C'mon, man."
When Rivera retired Shane Victorino for the final out, it was the fourth time that a Rivera pitch ended in a Yankees world championship.
"It's amazing," Rivera said. "I mean, I tried to never forget [what it felt like]. But when you're in there, you know how much you miss it. You find out, definitely, how much you miss it to be in this position."
Jorge Posada had only five hits in the Series, but he drove in five runs. He had been the catcher in 11 of Pettitte's postseason wins. No battery has ever combined to win more postseason games.
Jeter, Pettitte, Rivera and Posada's lack of arrogance and sense of appreciation has not diminished.
"It's special," Jeter said. "We've played together for what -- 17 years, 18 years? We were together in the minor leagues coming up. And you don't see that too often, especially with free agency. We're like brothers. And to get an opportunity to spend all these years together and win another championship, it really feels good."
A.J. Burnett, who was on his first (and probably only) world championship team, was more effective with words than he was with his fastball.
"You know what?" said Burnett, "these guys are very classy individuals -- Jeter, Mariano, Pettitte and Posada especially for me, in my first year here, being a pitcher. They're guys who really showed you how to be a New York Yankee.
"And they do that by being themselves. By showing class. And being the most humble human beings I've ever been around."
As the 2012 season is about to begin, Posada has retired, but after sitting out a season, Pettitte has rejoined Jeter and Rivera. Will many individuals be surprised if they add a sixth title in October?
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