10 Years Later: Remembering the 2001 World Series

Chuck Platt@chuck_plattCorrespondent IINovember 4, 2011

10 Years Later: Remembering the 2001 World Series

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    10 years ago today the Arizona Diamondbacks won their first and only World Series in franchise history, rallying for a pair of runs of the great Mariano Rivera in the ninth inning of Game 7.

    While the baseball world just witnessed a fine World Series, particularly a historically superb Game 6, the 2011 World Series can't trump the 2001 World Series, which is unquestionably the greatest World Series of the Wild Card Era. 

    This slideshow recaps the twist, turns and historic moments of a truly memorable Fall Classic, the 2001 World Series.

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How They Got There: Arizona

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    The 2001 Arizona Diamondbacks were powered by the tandem of Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling, who combined for 43 wins in the regular season.

    Luis Gonzalez hit 57 home runs, third in the NL behind Sammy Sosa's 64 and Barry Bonds' record-breaking 73. 

    The D-Backs fought off a hard charge from the Giants to win the NL West by two games.

    It was Arizona's second division title in franchise history.

    In the NLDS, the D-Backs beat the Cardinals in five on a walk-off RBI single by Tony Womack.

    In the NLCS they downed the Braves, 4-1.

How They Got There: New York

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    The 2001 Yankees won 95 games, taking the AL East by a whopping 13.5 games.

    The Yankees knocked off the 102-win Oakland A's in the ALDS, 3-2, after dropping the first two games of the series in the Bronx. 

    Derek Jeter's famous "flip" occurred in the seventh inning of Game 3 in this series.

    After a trying ALDS, the Yankees made quick work of the Seattle Mariners in the ALCS, winning 4-1. The Mariners had won an AL record 116 games that season.

The Setting

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    The 2001 World Series was, as Joe Buck points out in the Game 1 intro at left, the first American professional sports championship played since the terrorists' attacks of Sept. 11 not even two months prior.

    Patriotism was running high, especially with a New York team involved in the Fall Classic.

D-Backs Win Game 1, 9-1

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    The Diamondbacks cruised to a 9-1 victory in Game 1 behind a seven-inning effort from Curt Schilling and four-run third and fourth innings, sending Yankees' starter Mike Mussina to an early shower.

    This was the first World Series game played in Arizona.

D-Backs Win Game 2, 4-0

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    As good as Curt Schilling was in Game 1, Randy Johnson was even better in Game 2.

    The Big Unit tossed a three-hit shutout, walking one and striking out 11. 

    Johnson pitched most of the game with only a 1-0 lead, as Yankees' starter Andy Pettitte was in his typically sharp postseason form.

    It wasn't until Matt Williams blasted a three-run homer off of Pettitte in the seventh that Johnson had a little breathing room.

Game 3

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    With the D-Backs up 2-0, the series shifted to New York. 

    The role of baseball in the immediate aftermath of Sept. 11 had been a storyline over the regular season's final month.

    Baseball figured to significantly commemorate Sept. 11 in the 2001 World Series regardless of who was playing.

    That the Yankees were involved was an appropriate and rather poetic coincidence. 

Bush's First Pitch

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    Love him or hate him, it's hard to do a first pitcher better than President George Bush did prior to Game 3 at Yankee Stadium.

    Bush threw a perfect strike from the top of the mound to Yankees' backup catch Todd Greene. 

    It was the first time a sitting president had thrown out a World Series first pinch since Dwight Eisenhower in 1956.

Yankees Win Game 3, 2-1

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    Roger Clemens delivered a strong start, scattering three hits over seven innings of work, striking out nine.

    Scott Brosius hit an RBI single in the sixth to break the 1-1 tie.

    Mariano Rivera pitched the final two innings and the Yankees won, 2-1 for their first win of the Series. Arizona's lead had been trimmed to 2-1.

Game 4

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    After "The Rocket's" strong performance in Game 3, the Yankees looked to even the series at two game apiece in Game 4.

    Orlando Hernandez, "El Duque," went 6.1 innings for the New York, allowing a lone run on a Mark Grace home run in the fourth.

    Curt Schilling, starting on three days' rest, went seven innings for Arizona. A third inning homer by Shane Spencer was his only blemish.

    The Diamondbacks scored twice in the top of the eighth, courtesy of an Erubiel Durazo double and a Matt Williams groundout.

    With 3-1 lead, Byung-Hyun Kim headed back out for his second inning of work in the bottom of the ninth, looking to complete his two-inning save and stake the D-Backs to a 3-1 lead in the series...

Yankees Win Game 4 in 10, 4-3

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    Kim faced the top of the New York order in the ninth. A Paul O'Neill single was sandwiched by a failed bunt attempt by Derek Jeter to leadoff the inning and a Bernie Williams strikeout.

    Next up was the Yankees' cleanup hitter, Tino Martinez. Martinez took the first pitch he saw over the wall, dramatically tying the game up at 3-3.

    In the 10th, as the clock edged past midnight and the calendar flipped to November, Derek Jeter, "Mr. November," hit a solo shot to the right field corner, winning the game for the Yankees as they tied up the series at 2-2.

Game 5

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    After the series-evening dramatics of Game 4, Game 5 ended up being a thriller as well.

    Continuing with a developing theme of the series, the game's starters pitched well. Mike Mussina went eight strong for New York, striking out 10 and giving up a pair of solo homers in the fifth, the first to Steve Finley, the second to Rod Barajas.

    Miguel Batista pitched 7.2 scoreless innings for Arizona, working out around his five hits and five walks.

Paul O'Neill Tribute

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    Game 5 is also remembered for the tribute that Yankees' fans gave Paul O'Neill in the top of the ninth.

    Realizing that this might be the last chance they'd see their beloved right fielder take the field at Yankee Stadium, fans rose to their feet and began chanting his name.

    O'Neill tipped his cap heading into the dugout after the inning, but this wouldn't be the last time he took the field in Game 4...

Brosius Ties Game 5

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    With the score 2-0, D-Backs, Byung-Hyun Kim took the mound in the ninth, staked to another two-run lead.

    Jorge Posada led off the inning with a double to left. After a Shane Spencer groundout and a Chuck Knoblauch strikeout, Scott Brosius strode to the plate with two outs.

    Brosius took ball one and then hit Kim's next pitch, a hanging curveball, deep down the left field line.

    Brosius nearly lost his balance connecting with Kim's off-speed offering. As he regained his footing, he dropped his bat and dramatically raised his fists in celebration as his swat sailed in the seats in left, tying the game 2-2.

    Kim had done it again, blowing his second save in as many nights. 

Yankees Win Game 5 in 12, 3-2

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    Following the Yankees' second night of ninth-inning dramatics, the bullpens battled for three innings, including a pair of scoreless innings from Mariano Rivera.

    New York broke through in the twelfth. Chuck Knoblauch led off the inning with a single and was bunted to second by Scott Brosius. Alfonso Soriano then stroked a single to right and, beating a close play at the plate, Knoblauch slid under the tag of Rod Barajas, scoring the game's winning run.

    After being one out away from being down three games to one in Game 4, the Yankees had clawed back and now, after a second straight night getting to Arizona's closer, flew back to Phoenix up 3-2.

Game 6: Johnson Dazzles

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    With their backs up against the wall after three straight and two heartbreaking losses in the Bronx, the D-Backs looked to Randy Johnson to reverse their fortunes.

    The "Big Unit" delivered in the clutch, going seven innings, allowing two runs on six hits and a pair of walks, striking out seven in 104-pitch effort.

Pettitte Unravels: D-Backs Win Game 6, 15-2

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    On the other side, Yankees' starter Andy Pettitte was anything put his usual dominate postseason self.

    The D-Backs rocked Pettitte, chasing him after two innings and six runs.

    Reliever Jay Witasick didn't exactly stop the bleeding, surrendering nine runs in only 1.1 innings of work.

    In a must-win situation the D-Backs offense had more than risen to the occasion, forcing Game 7. 

    The World Series would go seven games for the first time since 1997.

Game 7

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    And so there was Game 7.

    The game seemed destined for greatness with simply a glance at its pitching matchup: Roger Clemens versus Curt Schilling; a pair of all-time greats and 20-game winners.

    Arizona's offense had torched the Yankees in Games 1 and 6, however all of the games in-between those two had been nip-and-tuck affairs, especially the three in New York.

    What had already been an excellent World Series was destined for a fittingly excellent final chapter...

The Aces Battle

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    The pitching matchup lived up to the hype. Five innings in and there was still no score.

    After giving up a one-out double to Paul O'Neill in the first, Schilling settled into a groove.  He retired 13 in a row after closing out the fifth.

    Clemens hadn't been as sharp, scattering four hits and a walk over those first five innings.

The D-Backs Strike First

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    The Diamondbacks broke the scoreless tie in the bottom of the sixth inning on a double to left center by Danny Bautista.

    Bautista's hit scored Steve Finley, who had just led off the inning with a single.

    Bautista was actually thrown out a third trying to stretch for a triple.

The Yankees Strike Back

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    Schilling barely had time to enjoy his 1-0 lead before giving it up, as the Yankees laced together three hits in the top of the seventh, coming away with a run to tie the game up, 1-1.

    The Yankees run came on a Tino Martinez single to right that scored Derek Jeter.

Soriano Belts a HR

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    Schilling went back out for the eighth.

    Up 0-2 on Alfonso Soriano, Schilling delivered his 95th pitch of the night and Soriano took it out for a home run.

    Schill followed up by striking out Scott Brosius and allowing a single to David Justice. Bob Brenly then pulled him for Miguel Batista, who got Derek Jeter to groundout for the inning's second out.

    Brenly then turned to his starter from the day before, Randy Johnson. Johnson induced a flyout from Chuck Knoblauch to end the inning.

Sandman Time

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    As expected, Joe Torre turned to Mariano Rivera in the eighth for a two-inning save.

    He looked razor sharp in the eighth.

    Steve Finley poked a single into right, but Rivera set down Luis Gonzalez, Matt Williams and Danny Bautista—all three of them—on swinging strikeouts.

Johnson Keeps the Deficit at One

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    The Yankees had score a run each of the past two innings to take a 2-1 lead heading to the top of the ninth.

    With Mariano Rivera looking to be his usual dialed-in self after striking out the side in the eighth, it was imperative that Randy Johnson empty the tank and hold the deficit at one heading to the bottom of the ninth.

    That's exactly what hedid. Against the heart of the Yankees' lineup—Bernie Williams, Tino Martinez and Jorge Posada—Johnson dug deep and got a one-two-three inning. Clutch. 

Womack Ties the Game

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    Rivera never got into a groove in the bottom of the ninth.

    Mark Grace led of the inning with a single. Damian Miller then hit a bunt back to the mound. Rivera threw the ball into center field trying to get Grace out at second.

    Jay Bell was next. He, too, dropped down a bunt, that, like Miller's, was fielded by Rivera. Mo made his play this time, nimbly scooping up the bunt a firing a bullet to Brosius to force out Grace at third.

    Rivera had thrown all of five pitches so far. Next up was Tony Womack. He alone took pitches from Rivera. The fifth pitch he drove hard down the right field line for the game-tying double, scoring pinch-runner Midre Cummings from second.

Gonzalez's Hit, D-Backs Win Game 7, 3-2

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    Rivera next plunked Craig Counsell—anxiety, much?—to load the bases for Luis Gonzalez, with still only one out.

    The crowd in Phoenix was rightfully going bananas and Gonzo didn't make them wait long. He took the second pitch he saw from Rivera up and just over the lip of the infield—a true Texas League single.

    Jay Bell joyously dashed across home plate and the Diamondbacks were World Series champions thanks to a thrilling come-from-behind, two-run rally.

Analyzing the D-Backs' Rally

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    The D-Backs furious two-run rally in the ninth against Rivera, a surefire first-ballot Hall of Famer, was truly legendary and remarkable.

    The Yankees had been so close to a fourth straight World Series win. (The last team to win more than three in row were the Yankees, who won five in row from 1949 to 1953.)

    It was a wild and dramatic ending to a wild and dramatic World Series.

Schilling & Johnson Split WS MVP

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    With their dominant performances in the World Series, it was only fitting that Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling split the World Series MVP.

    They combined for a 4–0 record and a 1.40 ERA over 39.1 innings, striking out a whopping 45.

    The D-Backs got to the Series because of these two guys and, appropriately, they leaned heavily on their efforts to win the title.

2001 World Series: Its Legacy

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    The 2001 World Series, with two extra-inning games and three walk-off wins, was one of the best World Series in all of baseball history.

    It was the first World Series since 1991, arguably the greatest Series ever, in which the home team won every game.

    While 2011's Game 6 might trump 2001's Game 7 as a superior individual game, it's hard to argue that a better World Series has been played since the D-Backs edged the Yankees in the desert 10 years ago against the backdrop of the recent events of Sept. 11.

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