Inspired by Bryn Swartz' list of his favorite moments as a Philadelphia sports fan. Unfortunately I could not level it down to just a city or a state because New Jersey has no Baseball and my Dad for whatever reason grew up a Dallas Cowboys fan.
In the spirit of the new Baseball season, this list is going to be my favorite New York Yankees moments; the best American franchise in sports and the team that has spoiled me the most.
I was 11 years old when the Arizona Diamondbacks came back in the ninth inning of Game Seven to defeat the unhittable Mariano Rivera and the New York Yankees. Even when Tony Womack hit in the tying run, I didn't even really consider the possibility that the Yankees just might lose.
I just watched the Yankees win four of the past five World Series and it had gotten to the point where it felt written that we would win it all again and again.
I probably needed what has happened since to snap me back into reality, to remind me how hard it is to win a World Series and how lucky I was to have witnessed such success for my Baseball team.
This is a tribute to the New York Yankees, who have given me so many amazing memories in my short life and hopefully a memory or two that could have found its place on this list.
To give you an idea of how hard this was, the following unfortunately were left off:
-Bernie Williams Walk-off home run in Game One of the 1999 ALCS against the Boston Red Sox
-Dwight Gooden's no-hitter.
-Mike Mussina's near perfect game in Fenway.
-David Wells' perfect game!
-The final game in Yankee Stadium.
-Paul O'Neil's game winning hit against John Rocker in Game One of the 1999 World Series.
-Derek Jeter's flip to home plate in Game Three of the 2001 ALDS.
-The Second Boston Massacre.
-Jose Vizcaino's walk-off hit in Game One of the Subway Series.
The 10 moments below (Plus two honorable mentions) never fail to put a big smile on my face and make me feel proud to be a Yankee fan.
Honorable Mention: Oct. 16, 2000: Justice is served!
The New York Yankees got off to a slow start in the 2000 regular season, desperate to add some power to the lineup and ended up acquiring David Justice from the Cleveland Indians for Ricky Ledee, Jake Westbrook and Zach Day.
Justice made his impact immediately, hitting 41 home runs on the season (20 as a Yankee).
But the reason why I will always have a soft spot for Justice was the missile he launched into the upper deck off of Arthur Rhodes to give the Yankees a 6-4 lead in the seventh inning of of Game Six of the ALCS, what would turn out to be the clinching game.
The Yankees scored three more runs after and wound up winning 9-7 to go to the World Series.
Justice was only hitting .190 in the series prior to the homer but I doubt any Yankee fans cared. He was forever a hero in New York, an ALCS MVP, and soon to be a World Series winner with the ballclub.
Honorable Mention: July 1 2004: Jeter dives head first into the stands.
There are so many reasons to love this instant classic of a game from the Yankees point of view, the exciting 13-inning game gave us a three-game sweep of the Red Sox, A-Rod's double play to end the top of the 11th, John Flaherty's walk-off hit, and of course the Derek Jeter catch and dive into the stands.
Th greatest thing for me? All of the Red Sox fans that I talked in the next few days that would just sigh and then say, 'Nomar wouldn't have done that.'
July 1 gave Red Sox Nation a temporary feeling of doom, put an end to the Derek Jeter/Nomar Garciaparra debate, and of course gave us a fantastic Baseball game.
10. Oct. 23, 1996: Mark Wohlers passes the torch.
Even though I made the list, I can't believe this is only 10th.
Game Four of the 1996 World Series was the second biggest comeback in World Series history. Denny Neagle pitched strong and Kenny Rogers was hit early and often. Atlanta opened up a 6-0 lead after five innings and even when the Yankees got to Neagle in the sixth scoring three runs, Mike Bielecki appeared to slam the door shut by striking out the side.
Bobby Cox decided to bring in close Mark Wohlers in the eighth inning. After two singles and an error by Rafael Belliard prevented a double play, Jim Leyritz came to the plate and smashed a 2-2 slider over the left-field wall.
Many think of this moment as the torch being passed, the Braves were the dominant team of the early part of decade and the Yankees would hold that honor from this point on.
Wade Boggs would draw a bases loaded walk to give the Yankees the lead in the 10th, the Yankees would win the game 8-6, Mark Wohlers was never the same, and the rest is history.
9. Oct. 21, 2001- Alfonso Soriano knocks the 116 win Mariners out.
Only a few years after the New York Yankees won 114 games in the regular season and were called one of the best Baseball teams ever, the Seattle Mariners won 116 in 2001. The Mariners didn't finish the job though, and how fitting that they would finished off by the New York Yankees.
It was Game Four of the 2001 ALCS, the road team won the first three games of the series putting the Yankees at a 2-1 lead in the series. Roger Clemens and Paul Abbott both struggled with their control that night but neither team could take advantage as both would leave without giving up runs.
In the eighth inning, Bret Boone would finally break the scoreless game homering off Ramiro Mendoza in his 3rd inning of work. Bernie Williams would respond though with a blast off Arthur Rhodes in the bottom half of the inning.
Alfonso Soriano would finish the job with a walk-off two run home run off of Kazuhiro Sasaki.
Game Five would never be in doubt, a 12-3 win for the Yankees and a fifth trip to the World Series in six years.
8. July 18, 1999- Perfect for a day.
Let me get this straight; Don Larsen (The only man to pitch a perfect game in the World Series) throws out the first pitch, it's Yogi Berra Day, it's Manager Joe Torre's birthday, my favorite pitcher is on the mound...And he is about to pitch a perfect game? You're kidding right?
David Cone wasn't kidding, first start after the All-Star game, 10 strikeouts, 88 pitches, and perfection as Orlando Cabrera finished it off by popping out to Scott Brosius in foul territory. What a wonderful world!
7. Oct. 17, 1998- Tino takes Mark Langston into the upper deck
After failing to reach the World Series in 1997, the New York Yankees were back in the Fall Classic in 1998, this time against the San Diego Padres.
Game One didn't start well as ALCS MVP David Wells got hit hard giving up five runs and three home runs, one to Tony Gwynn and the other two to Greg Vaughn.
San Diego Padres ace Kevin Brown got pulled in the seventh inning with a 5-2 lead and two men on. Donne Wall couldn't maintain that lead with Chuck Knoblauch hitting a three run homer to tie the game.
Mark Langston was called on next to stop the bleeding, but Tino Martinez (Who was in a mighty slump up to this point.) took a 3-2 pitch into the upper deck to give the Yankees a 9-5. They would hold on to win 9-6.
6. Oct. 31 and Nov. 1 2001- Tino, Brosius, and Mr. October.
After all, movies with bad endings can still be memorable along the way. I definitely couldn't separate these two games. Two days that Yankees fans and Byung Hyun Kim will never forget.
An especially amazing two days for me because since the 1996 World Series I had moved from New Jersey to Arizona and was caught in the middle of 'Diamondback Fever'.
Halloween night I was at a neighbor's house watching Game Four of the World Series, and how sweet it was to see Tino Martinez take Kim deep for a two-run home run to tie the ballgame at three apiece with two out in the ninth, in the 10th, just past midnight, Mr. November took Kim deep as well to end Game Four and tie the series at two.
In Game Five Miguel Batista dominated the Yankees pitching seven-and-two-thirds of shut-out ball, but perhaps that was the plan. Let the Diamondbacks take a two run lead to the ninth and hand the ball to Kim so the Yankees could take it from there.
This time it was Scott Brosius who would tag a two out pitch from the Korean closer into the seats for a game-tying two run homer.
This game lasted a little longer than Game Four but the end result was the same, Alfonso Soriano ripped one to right field off of Albie Lopez that would score Chuck Knobluch in the 12th inning to give the Yankees another walk-off win
5. Oct. 20, 1998- Brosius leaves his name on the World Series.
The Yankees would take Game Two easily to send the series to Qualcomm with a commanding 2-0 lead.
Once again though a Yankee starting pitcher would leave the game losing, this time it was David Cone out-dueled by former Yankee Sterling Hitchcock.
The list of closers I was scared to death of at the time started and ended with Trevor Hoffman. He was called on in the eighth inning after a lead-off walk by Paul O'Neill. Hoffman would get Bernie Williams to fly out but then would walk Tino Martinez before giving up the game winning home run in to Scott Brosius.
The Yankees would win the game 5-4 and then Andy Pettitte shut out the Padres in Game Four to give the Yankees the sweep and be known as one of the best teams of all-time.
4. Oct, 16, 2003- Aaron Bleeping Boone
We didn't win the World Series, but as Clark Gable would say, 'Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn.'
Don't get me wrong, a World Series title is awesome but this was so sweet by itself. Game Seven against the Boston Red Sox, Mike Mussina's great relief appearance, Jason Giambi's solo shots to close the margin, Pedro blowing the lead in the eighth, Rivera's three shut-out innings, capped off by Aaron Boone of all men crushing the first pitch he saw from Tim Wakefield (who dominated the Yankees in the Series) into the left-field seats to send the Yankees to the World Series and the Red Sox home.
It says something about the mental toughness of that Boston Red Sox squad to be able to come back under all the circumstances and win the World Series the following year but in the year 2003 I felt on top of the world.
3. Oct. 26 and 27, 1999- Chad Curtis and The Rocket hush all of the team of the decade debate.
It was a clash of the teams of the decade, the Atlanta Braves had already been to four World Series even winning it all in 1995.
For the New York Yankees, it was only their third trip to the Fall Classic but they won the first two including a win over the Braves in 1996. And the Yankees would now make it three.
Down 2-0, the series shifted to Yankee Stadium with the Atlanta Braves facing a must-win with Tom Glavine facing Andy Pettitte. Pettitte would get rocked early giving up five runs in the first four innings.
Jason Grimsley and Jeff Nelson would hold the fort though for the next few innings as the Yankees proceeded to slug their way back into the game.
Chad Curtis and Tino Martinez would both hit solo shots off of Glavine to cut the deficit to 5-3, then in the eighth Chuck Knoblauch just barely hit one over the right field porch to tie the game at five.
It carried into extra innings where Chad Curtis would add another solo shot, this time off Mike Remlinger to give the Yankees the lead.
Roger Clemens, who struggled in his first year in Pinstripes, would out-duel John Smoltz to give the Yankees their third World title in four years and make a strong case for team of the decade.
2. Oct. 26, 2000- Down with Queens
So how do you top being team of the decade? By knocking off the cross-town rivals in the World Series next year.
Despite only needing five games, the series was very even with the Yankees only scoring three more total runs over the course of the series.
Game Five was another well-pitched showdown between Andy Pettitte and Al Lieter. Bernie Williams broke a dreadful slump with a solo shot in the second inning and Jeter would tack on a solo shot of his own in the sixth while the Mets scored two unearned runs off Pettitte.
Lieter went eight-and-two-thirds innings, throwing over 140 pitches before finally losing it in the ninth. After a Jorge Posada walk and a Scott Brosius single, Luis Sojo would add a single of his own that would score two runs after Jay Payton's throw to the plate hit a sliding Posada at home and got away from the catcher.
Mike Piazza would fly out to deep center to end it.
My family was split into two sides from the Subway Series and what a series it was!
1. Oct. 26, 1996- My first taste of a title for the Yankees.
It has to be number one for me, my first time doing this. All it took was one rough inning for Greg Maddux for the city to start shaking in anticipation. An RBI triple from Joe Girardi and RBI singles from Derek Jeter and Bernie Williams in the third inning gave the Yankees a lead it would never relinquish.
Joh Wetteland gave us a little bit of a scare but the World Series MVP would get the job done once again. After a two out hit by Marquis Grissom brought in a run, Wetteland had a 3-2 count on Mark Lemke...
'Swung on and popped up again off third. Hayes has room. Hayes make the catch! Yankees win! The Yankees win!'