New York Yankees: Ranking Their Most Epic Postseason Victories
The New York Yankees reach the postseason nearly every year, which means they have the annual opportunity to add even more historic, unforgettable moments to their already rich baseball lore.
Opportunity was a knockin' last nigh,t and Raul Ibanez seized the moment.
Ibanez's epic performance in the late innings last night at Yankee Stadium, blasting two home runs with everything on the line, should surely go down in memory as one of the more outstanding moments and victories in Yankee postseason history.
What makes this time of year so great are the fans in New York, the history, the tradition and the expectation. Yankee fans can feel that something special is always right about to happen.
There have been some extraordinary, larger-than-life moments in Yankees' postseason history and now Raul Ibanez is single-handedly the hero of one of them.
I went through the annals of history and hand-picked the 11 greatest postseason victories in Yankees' history. Sit back, enjoy the nostalgia and keep believing for that next great Yankee moment to happen!
1. 1956 World Series Game 5: Don Larsen's Perfect Game
Don Larsen's perfect game occurred in Game 5 of the 1956 World Series, a rematch between the Brooklyn Dodgers and the Yankees. This time, the Yankees delivered payback to their borough neighbors to the southeast by shutting them out in Game 5 and Game 7.
The big reason why that shutout occurred in Game 5 was thanks to a 27-year-old pitcher named Don Larsen, whose funky "no-windup" pitching style befuddled the Dodgers for all nine innings en route to the first and only perfect game in MLB postseason history.
The fact that this extraordinary gem was pitched in the Fall Classic makes this the all-time No. 1 moment.
2. 1977 World Series Game 6: Reggie Jackson Blasts Three Home Runs
Reggie Jackson hit three home runs—all on the first pitch—in Game 6 of the 1977 World Series, helping the Yankees win their first title in 15 years. Many baby-boomer Yankee fans fondly refer to this moment as one of their all-time favorites.
It's truly surreal to think that one man was able to rise to the occasion on the grandest of all stages, blasting home runs each time on the first pitch of the at-bat. It's also cause to wonder—why in the world were the Dodgers' even pitching to him?
3. 2001 World Series Game 4: The Late-Inning Home Runs That Shook the Stadium
In the aftermath of 9/11, the Yankees were able to play the sports version of heroes by delivering an unforgettable playoff run that nearly culminated in their fifth World Series title in six seasons.
In hindsight, the fact that the Yankees did not win the World Series that season doesn't matter all that much.
Anyone that followed those games knows what the goose bumps felt like in some of the most magical, special moments in Yankee playoff history.
First, Tino Martinez blasted a two-run shot in the bottom of the ninth inning off Byung-Hyun Kim to tie the game, in a moment where many in the house say the foundation of the original Yankee Stadium actually shook. Then, Derek Jeter delivered an incredible opposite-field shot, also off Kim, to deliver the win.
The amazing thing is that Game 5 also ended in walk-off fashion, with nearly as spectacular a conclusion.
While the Yankees did not win the Series, for three unbelievable nights in late-October-to-early-November, there was magic in the Bronx.
4. 2003 ALCS Game 7: Aaron Boone
One of the greatest games in baseball history ended with a player whom no one could imagine being a hero hitting a home run.
Aaron Boone, acquired by the Yankees via a deadline trade during the 2003 season, came up to the plate in the 11th inning of a tie game between the Yankees and hated Red Sox.
Then, with one famous stroke, Boone clobbered Tim Wakefield's first pitch and sent it deep into the New York night, and in doing so, vaulted the Yankees into the 2003 World Series.
5. 1932 World Series Game 3: The Babe Calls His Shot
It's one of those World Series moments that has been dissected, debated and analyzed to the best of any baseball historian's ability.
Part of the folklore is that no one can come to a clear agreement on that question. Some speculate that the Babe was pointing at someone, others swear he promised he'd put one over the ivy at the friendly confines of Wrigley.
Either way, the Babe and his incredible bashing mate, Lou Gehrig, delivered in Game 3, each smashing two home runs out of the yard en route to a 7-5 Yankees victory. The Yankees routed Chicago in Game 4 to seal the title, the last of Babe Ruth's unrivaled career.
6. 1996 World Series Game 4: The Comeback
Jim Leyritz, the Yankees' back-up catcher to now-manager Joe Girardi, lofted one of the most famous home runs in World Series history off Braves closer Mark Wohlers to revitalize the Yankees' spirits and completely change the complexion of the 1996 World Series.
The Yankees would go on to win Game 4 and the following two games, completing a memorable comeback victory over Atlanta.
It all started with the Leyritz home run that stunned everyone in the house.
7. 1962 World Series Game 7: Bobby's Catch and Terry's Gem
Bobby Richardson saved the day for the Yankees, who would win the 1962 World Series after he caught a screaming line-drive off the bat of Willie McCovey in Game 7 in San Francisco.
This classic game was best known for Ralph Terry's spectacular pitching performance, a four-hit, complete-game shutout.
Old-time Yankee fans will remember that shot off the bat of McCovey, which surely looked like it was destined for the outfield and a Giants win, only for Richardson, who was perfectly placed, to make the catch and seal yet another world championship for the Bronx Bombers.
8. 1952 World Series Game 7: Mickey Mantle's Late RBI Gives Yanks Series
Mickey Mantle hit the game-winning home run and tacked on an RBI single to seal the Yankees' fourth-consecutive World Series title.
Billy Martin also made an incredible shoestring catch to help preserve the Bombers' victory at Ebbets Field.
The Yankees beat the Brooklyn Dodgers for a second-straight season in 1953, just for good measure.
9. 1941 World Series Game 4: Catcher's Bobble Opens Floodgate for Yankees
Tommy Henrich struck out on what should have been the final out of Game 4 of the 1941 World Series.
But Brooklyn catcher Mickey Owen was unable to hold on to the ball. It rolled toward the Brooklyn dugout and Old Reliable scurried toward first base.
What followed was an incredible four-run ninth inning, highlighted by a two-run Charlie Keller double that busted the game wide open. The Yankees tacked on two more runs to defeat the Dodgers in what was for Brooklyn one of the most heartbreaking losses in franchise history.
One game later, the Yankees were on top of the baseball universe again.
10. 1958 World Series Game 7: Moose Skowron's Blast Delivers Title
Making it all the sweeter after a loss to Milwaukee in seven games the previous season, the Yankees won the final three games of the 1958 World Series, taking the prize in Game 7 after a four-run eighth inning, highlighted by Moose Skowron's three-run home run.
This was revenge at its finest, after the Bombers were on the precipice following a Warren Spahn shutout at Yankee Stadium.
The Yankees blanked the Braves 7-0 in Game 5 in the Bronx, then won a squeaker in 10 innings in Game 6, before their momentous eighth inning in Game 7 sealed the deal.
11. 2012 ALDS Game 3: Raul Ibanez's Magnificent Night
Raul Ibanez pulled off an improbable, incredible one-man offensive effort in the late innings of Game 3 of the American League Division Series, blasting two home runs deep to right field when the Yankees twice had their backs up against the wall.
Ibanez pinch-hit for Alex Rodriguez in the ninth inning—one of the gutsiest managerial moves in postseason history—and repaid manager Joe Girardi's faith by blasting two consecutive taters to send the Yankee Stadium crowd into a frenzy.
Maybe someday, Yankee fans can look back at this unbelievable night as the moment that changed their 2012 postseason fortunes.
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