It's the most exciting play in sports: the walk-off home run. The playoffs serve to amplify it to to its most thrilling as series, seasons and even careers can be forever altered with one swing of the bat. The Yankees have accomplished this feat thirteen times, more than any other team. Some more memorable than others, but all forever committed to the impressive tomb of Yankee lore. After yesterday's celebrations of the tenth anniversary of Aaron Boone accomplishing the feat, let's look at the best Yankees' postseason walk-off homers aside from Mr. Boone's. This list was compiled in a completely biased and non-scientific manner, so feel free to gripe.
#5- Game 3 1964 WS Yankees vs. Cardinals: Mickey Mantle homers off of Barney Schultz. Yankees win 2-1 in nine innings.
The last hurrah for the great Yankees teams of the fifties and sixties and the last Yankees World Series appearance for twelve seasons. A signature moment for one of the best ever on the greatest stage, though the team would go on to lose in seven games. Also notable: Barney Schultz is a wonderful name.
Williams has the distinction of being the only Yankee with two postseason walk-off homers (1999 ALCS Game One). Additional significance is added to this one as it closed out the infamous "Jeffrey Maier" game and the Orioles won Game 2. Two home losses would have really put the Yankees up against the wall (although it didn't seem to matter much in the World Series).
The hit that gave Jeter the moniker of "Mr. November". Any of the heroics from the 2001 Series are obviously bittersweet considering the outcome of Game Seven, but the significance of the hit sending the Yankees back to Arizona up three games to two still stands. Throw in the emotional backdrop of the events of September 11th and the fact it was the Captain and this one still deserves to be high up on the list.
#2- Game 1 1949 WS Yankees vs. Dodgers: Tommy Henrich homers off of Don Newcombe. Yankees win 1-0 in nine innings.
Poor, poor Don Newcombe. The Dodgers ace matched Allie Reynolds zero for zero going into the bottom of the ninth when he gave up a solo shot to Henrich, who gets credit for the first Yankees playoff walk-off homer ever. It would be the start of another Series win for the Yankees over their crosstown punching bags.
#1- Game 5 1976 ALCS Yankees vs. Royals: Chris Chambliss homers off of Mark Littell: Yankees win 7-6 in nine innings.
The home run that wiped away twelve years of misery. Chambliss' home run brought World Series baseball back to the Bronx and caused a deluge of fans onto the field the likes of which you will never ever see again. Ending a playoff series on a home run in New York is a moment that's nigh impossible to top. Even a dud of a performance against the Cincinnati Reds in the World Series can't tarnish the sheen of this great Yankees moment.
*Let it be noted that Chad Curtis' home run in Game 3 of the 1999 World Series was deducted 10,000 points for being hit by Chad Curtis and fell short of making the top five.
Now let's sit back and see if any of these current playoff teams can add a similar moment to their respective franchise's history. Just don't let it be the Red Sox, okay?