Game 7 Of The 2003 ALCS
The "Stadium Gods" Come Through For Me
For me, Game 7 of the
2003 ALCS actually began about 10 minutes after my brother-in-law and I pulled
out of the Yankee Stadium parking lot after Game 6. The Boston Red Sox had just
beaten the Yankees 9-6, and we began to make our long way back to
It’s always tough driving home after a Yankee playoff loss. I can assure you that 187-mile trip back seems to take a lot longer when the Yanks come out on the short end of the score. That trip was no different. As a matter of fact, that trip was excruciating.
During that drive home, we began to discuss the “what if” ramifications of a Game 7 Yankee loss. If the Red Sox beat the Yankees in Game 7 we had it all figured out. Forget about reading the Providence Journal or any local paper for the next six months. Listen to a local radio sports show? Forget it. Watch the sports on the local news? Are you kidding? We both work in Massachusetts and could only imagine the “torture” we would have to put up with all winter long. The more we talked about what it would be like, the more nervous I got just thinking about Game 7. I wondered to myself how I would survive watching that game at Yankee Stadium under that kind of pressure. Needless to say, I didn’t sleep well that night.
The next day, I left my
father’s store in
I was anxious all the way
down to the
Once in the bar, there was no longer talk about a “Pedro win”. There were no confident Red Sox fans preparing for a parade. The place was full of Yankee fans that were all confident the “Bombers” would prevail and win the pennant. Yes sir, I was with my people and I was feeling a lot better about the game.
My confidence grew as I headed toward my seats inside the park. The section I sit in is full of “regulars” who I have become friendly with over the years. We see games together from April to October, so these are the fans you want to be with for such an important game. They all know my story (Yankee fan living in Sox country) and knew how nervous I would be for this game. They all told me what I wanted to hear as I walked down to my seats.
When the Yankees fell quickly behind 4-0, we were a bit disappointed, but our confidence was still high. Then when Mike Mussina worked out of a first and third and no one out jam in the fourth, we all turned to each other and noted that was going to turn the game around. The Yankee were able to get closer to the Sox as two solo Giambi homers made the score 4-2. In the top of the eighth inning David Ortiz hit a homer off David Wells. When Ortiz hit the ball, you could hear the angst of 56,000 Yankee fans. I thought to myself the Yankees would need some “Yankee Stadium magic” to win this game.
With one out in the bottom of the eighth inning, Derek Jeter doubled, and suddenly I felt that magic I was looking for. Yes, I know it’s not proper for a “rational” person to believe in magic; but sorry, I’ve seen so many magical moments at Yankee Stadium before, that it would be “irrational” for me to believe otherwise.
I’ve witnessed pennants
and world championships won at Yankee Stadium. I saw two perfect games pitched
We were all standing up when Bernie Williams stroked a single to center and Jeter scored. The scoreboard in left center field read, Red Sox 5 Yankees 3, but for some reason, it felt the Yankees were in control. While still standing, Hideki Matsui lined a double right by us down the right field line. The Yanks had runners on second and third, and the place was going bananas.
With two strikes on him, Jorge Posada flared one to shallow center. From my vantage point, I knew it was going to drop. It did, and I swear, the Stadium was shaking. I still can remember myself leaning against the side wall, looking up to the sky, and thanking the Stadium Gods.
The ninth, tenth, and top of the eleventh inning were probably the most gut wrenching innings I have ever experienced at Yankee Stadium. In the top of the ninth, Todd Walker hit a two-out flare that I thought was going to go over Alfonso Soriano’s head for a run scoring single. I saw Soriano stumble back, and my heart sank. Soriano did catch the ball but for a moment there, I thought the Yanks were in big trouble.
The extra frames were
killing me. During those innings, every once-in-awhile I would still think about
how awful it would be for the Yankees to lose this game. I told a group of
people behind me if the Yankees lose this game they (Red Sox fans) will be
waiting for me at the
As Mariano Rivera walked off the mound after retiring the Sox in the top of the eleventh inning, I knew that would be his last inning. Now it was imperative that the Yankees score.
From the eighth inning on, everyone in our section was standing most of the time. It was so tense, we couldn’t sit. Before the bottom of the eleventh began and while Aaron Boone was taking his practice swings near the on deck circle, a friend of mine who sits two rows behind me called me over and screamed, “Louie, Boone’s going to be the hero. He’s going to win this game.” I told him I agreed as we “high-fived” each other. Upon hearing our confidence in Boone another fan said, “You two guys have been saying how good he is since they (the Yankees) got him. You guys are crazy. If he ends the game, I’ll kiss your (expletive).
Once those now infamous words were spoken, we all turned our heads to watch Boone at the plate. Boone swung at the first pitch and like magic, the ball headed toward the left field seats. As the ball was in the air, I could hear the constant and increasingly loud roar of the crowd. My eyes were fixed on that ball as it was rising and rising, making its way to left field seats. I kept saying out loud, “Stay fair. Please stay fair.” As the ball landed safely fair in the left field seats, I leaped for unbridled joy. I didn’t see Boone run all around the bases because our section was delirious. The lower boxes of Section 21 became just a mob of joyous people hugging each other. It was incredible. So incredible, that even the security people joined the party.
As Frank Sinatra’s “
I remained in the stadium celebrating for over a half an hour. We all couldn’t get over what we had all witnessed. Finally, it was time to leave. On my way out, a woman yelled to me, “Louie, see you tomorrow.” “Tomorrow?” I asked. She pointed to the scoreboard clock and it was past . She explained today was Friday and the World Series starts Saturday. I laughed out loud because I totally forgot about the world series. I never left Yankee Stadium happier and the ride home was the most enjoyable I ever had.
When Bernie Williams caught the last out of the 2000 world series, and the New York Yankees started to celebrate their 26th world championship (their fourth in the last five years), I began to think back to when I first started rooting for the Yankees. It was at that instant that I began to savor this "world championship moment", for I can recall when things were far from the jubilant times that I have been experiencing for the last five years.
Anyone who started following the Yankees in the late sixties and early seventies knows what I'm talking about. During the 1978 season, I put together a Yankee scrapbook to mark the great comeback season the "Bombers" had. Recently I looked at that scrapbook and noticed a page in it that I titled, "10 Years Ago, 1968". In 1968, the Yankees finished in sixth place. Their lineup had the unfamiliar names of Andy Kosco, Bobby Cox (yes, the same Cox that now manages the Braves), Charlie Smith, Jake Gibbs, Horace Clarke, and Bill Robinson, just to name a few. No, this wasn't our father's New York Yankees, and that page reminded me how I suffered, following this team from 1967 to 1975.
In those days, being a Yankee fan wasn't very easy, especially for an eight year old who happened to live in Rhode Island. Everyone used to tell me how great the Yankees were, but as I kid, I never experienced "the greatness" that these people talked about. I remember listening to every game on WHN, and then in the early seventies on WMCA. The radio reception was poor, and my family wondered how I could hear the game through all the static. While they heard the static, I heard some exciting calls from Phil Rizzuto, Frank Messer, Jerry Coleman, and then later on, Bill White. Though the Yankees were absolutely horrible during those years, I never missed a game on the radio. Unlike today, with ESPN and cable, the Yankees were very rarely on television. Every Sunday, after reading the sports section, I would rush through the TV guide to see if the Yankees would be on the Saturday Game Of The Week. Needless to say, I was always disappointed, as it seemed like NBC only carried the Yankees when it was Old Timer's Day. The once-storied Yankees were now being overshadowed by the Detroit Tigers, Minnesota Twins, Baltimore Orioles, New York Mets, and Oakland A's.
During those years, it also wasn't "fashionable" to be a Yankee fan, especially if you lived in "Red Sox country". At that time, I couldn't even find a store that carried Yankee hats. An uncle of mine knew of my desire to have a Yankee hat, and one day a large box arrived from "Manny's Baseball Land". When I opened that box, yes there was a Yankee hat in it (the real thing with the "interlocking N Y) but also a Yankee uniform, a ball, a yearbook, and a Yankee jacket. I wore that jacket every day. It was silk with "Yankees" scripted on the front. When I would walk to school with that jacket on, people would actually snarl at me, and the surprising thing was that most of them were adults. Thirty years later, I still have that Yankee uniform and that jacket!
Unlike in recent years, the Yankees of 1967 to 1975, never made it to post-season play. Oh, how I longed to see "my team" being featured on NBC or ABC in the fall. For me, it was always wait till next year. For a while there, I thought I would never see the Yankees ever make it to post-season.
As I look back, I'm kind of lucky that the Yankees did make me suffer during those years. You see, because of all of the losing early on, I appreciate EVERY Yankee championship. I never take winning for granted, and understand it doesn't happen every year. We all are so lucky that we root for a competitive team like the Yankees of today. What has happened in the last five years is truly incredible. Even a little kid, in a silk Yankee jacket 30 years ago, could have never dreamed of such a great ride.
THE "HEXMAN" WRITES
THE YANKEE PARTY OF THE CENTURY
THE "BOYS" UP THERE SPEAK!
Hello everyone, this is Mel Allen. Today I'm up here with some of the greatest Yankees of the century, and I thought it would be a great treat for all of you to hear from them as we approach the end of the 1900s. The New York Yankees dominated the last 100 years in baseball and the guys up here played a major role in that domination. The "boys" are having a Yankee Century Party and all the great Yankees are here. The "Babe," the "Iron Horse," the "Yankee Clipper," the "Mick," "Billy," Roger, Thurman, and the "Catfish." What a sight this is. Now you, the fans of the century, will have a chance to "hear" from them. Man, how about that?
Louis DiLullo 1999
A RED SOX CELEBRATION!
Boston (AP) May 15, 2000
Throughout New England today, businesses and schools were closed so that thousands of Red Sox fans could celebrate their team being in first place on May 15th. In Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island, proud "fans" dusted off their Red Sox hats and proudly displayed the "B" that hadn't been worn since the New York Yankees kick their butts in the 1999 Championship Series. For a franchise that hasn't won a world championship since 1918, the accomplishment of being in first place on May 15th was truly monumental.
George C. Scott, president of the New Era baseball cap company, told reporters today that business was brisk in all the stores that carried his products. "Store owners told me the May 15th First Place Red Sox locker room caps were selling like hotcakes", Scott said. "The May 15th First Place locker room T-Shirts were also a big seller", he added. Scott went on to say that the fans are in a frenzy over the May 15 First Place showing and are buying everything which has that date on it.
The "frenzy" spilled over into Fenway Park today as thousands of fans crammed the old ballpark to see the May 15th First Place banner raised. Jim Spice, an 89-year old Red Sox fan, cried as the banner was raised up the centerfield flag pole. "I saw the last world championship 82 years ago, and the May 15 First Place event ranks right up there with that", Spice said. Fred Flynn, who is also 89, was also there but did not respond to reporters questions. Veteran reporters concluded that Flynn was either deaf, drunk, or dead.
Carl Yastremslope, president of the L.G. Balfour Company, passed out May 15th First Place rings to all the members of the Red Sox today. Carl Everett, who was ecstatic to have the ring on his finger said, "I just wish poor Ted Williams could have gotten one of these." The rings were beautiful as the words, "First Place, May 15th" were etched on each one. Yastremslope then presented Red Sox CEO, Tom Harrington with the First Place May 15th trophy.
At 3:00pm., a ticker-tape parade was held on the streets of downtown Boston. Fans, peered out of office buildings raising replicas of the May 15 First Place trophy at their heroes. Many fans were over-come with excitement due to this great feat. Carlton Fish, a 45-year old Sox fan, said May 15 will go down as one of the greatest days in Red Sox history. Fish said that he hoped the governor would make May 15 a state holiday every year. A few moments later Fish, fainted and had to be taken to Massachusetts General Hospital.
All the major networks covered the celebration, as national TV viewers heard reporter Jim Gray ask Pedro Martinez, "Hey Pedro, it's May 15th and you're in first place, where you going now?" Martinez smiled and said, "Head-hunting".
(c)Louis M. DiLullo 2000
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