This is the 4000th story in Pinstripe Alley history. To do something special, we decided to recount our best memories as Yankee fans. We encourage you to do the same.
As Yankee fans, we are spoiled by success. There are literally too many moments to choose just one. The times I most often recall include Jim Leyritz' 15th-inning homer against the Mariners in 1995, his three-run bomb against Mark Wohlers in '96, Brosius' and Tino's homers in '01, Aaron Boone of course, and A-Rod's game-tying homer off Joe Nathan last year. (Perhaps you can tell that I like homeruns.) But what always rises to the top is Tino Martinez' grand-slam in Game 1 of the '98 World Series.
I was lucky enough to attend the game. If you remember, Kevin Brown was the best pitcher in baseball that year (18-7, 2.38 ERA), and he started for San Diego against our ace, David Wells (18-4, 3.49 ERA). It wasn't the pitching duel it was supposed to be: The Yanks scored two in the second, then the Padres tied it up in the third. (Quick aside: Tony Gwynn is possibly the best pure hitter I ever saw. He could literally control where he hit the ball. He lined a single through the 3.5 hole in his first AB (it was clear as day that he was aiming for that hole), then somehow homered on a pitch at his wrists in his third AB.) Before we knew it, our 114-48 Yankees were down 5-2.
In the seventh, second-baseman Chuck Knoblauch (tormented by Steve Sax Disease), sent a Yankee Stadium Special into the left-field seats to tie the game at five. The way he celebrated showed how much of a weight had been lifted off him. The Yankees loaded the bases and up stepped Tino. A 2-2 borderline pitch went his way. The next was where he liked it: up (not the norm for lefties). As soon as he made contact, the whole stadium knew it was gone. We were just wondering how far it would go. I remember seeing several beers tossed in celebration where the ball landed. I was jumping up and down. The Yankees had scored seven runs in the inning and were on their way to a Game 1 win.
I am very fortunate to have a lot of great Yankee memories. Among them are Alex Rodriguez' walk-off grand slam, the last ever playoff game at the old Yankee Stadium (which sadly ended in a loss), last year's Melky Cabrera walk-off RBI single, Derek Jeter's 2000th hit, and many other great games. Each game has its own atmosphere and a different set of fans around me. Still, nothing will eclipse going to last year's ALDS Game 2. It was a close game throughout and the crowd was into every pitch. The group of fans around me included some fans that couldn't speak English, some that left in the 7th, some that were screaming in every at-bat, and some that were just solid baseball fans. Come the bottom of the 9th, only the true fans were left, even if it was a two-run game. Alex Rodriguez came to the plate and something came over us. The fans that couldn't speak English that didn't make a sound all game started screaming, the fans that were screaming and annoying everyone decided to take part in our "Let's go Yankees!" chant. A-Rod hit a home run and a new feeling emerged: The Yankees not only were going to win this game, they were going to win the World Series. And they did.
As a 20 year old, having spent the majority of my life in Upstate New York, and having only seen two Yankees games in person, I don't have a ton of material to draw upon about my "favorite Yankee memory," and had to do some serious deliberation on which moment I would choose. Last year's postseason was very special for me, one because we won the World Series, and two, because I saw my favorite player, Alex Rodriguez, get a huge monkey off of his back with a truly magnificent postseason. In my two trips to the Stadium, I witnessed an A-Rod home run off of Daniel Cabrera and Robinson Cano hitting a walk off double against the Blue Jays, but I decided to pick Aaron Bleepin' Boone.
In 2003, I was 13, and I had to have been a spoiled brat with all of the Yankees success in my youth. Having been too young to suffer through some of the Dark Ages in the '80s, I had grown accustomed to the Yankees continual World Series appearances, and I would be remiss to not include it, the futility of the Boston Red Sox. And living in Upstate, there are a fair number of Red Sox fans around, and in that moment when an absolute nobody in Boone hit the walk off in 2003, it seemed like it was fate. After that win, I was convinced that the Yankees were unbeatable and would continue their larger-than-life reign of dominance forever, and no matter how good of a team the Red Sox put together, they would never be able to break the curse. And it was pure happiness.