I'm a big fan of watching sports during weekdays and last week was big for that. The NCAA Tournament is the sport most famous for having games distracting people during the day, but it's not the only one. Baseball also plays the occasional weekday game and I thought I'd ask the PSA staff about some of their favorite memories of weekday games.
Q: March Madness is here. The NCAA Tournament is famous for having afternoon games during the week, often distracting people from school/work. What was your favorite weekday afternoon Yankee game?
My favorite day game, by far, was the Yankees home opener on April 8, 2003. I got out of school around 3:30, and got home just in time for first pitch. It was Hideki Matsui's first game at Yankee Stadium, and even though I knew nothing about NPB at the time, I was really excited to see Godzilla in action. He did not disappoint, and he did this in the 5th inning.
Matsui was one of my favorite players from 2003-2009, and it's pretty unbelievable that his most memorable games were his first and last games in pinstripes.
I don't have a clear favorite weekday afternoon Yankee game (or at least no weekday afternoon game leaps to mind).
But I have a favorite day game!
Game 4 of the 2005 NLDS between Houston and Atlanta. I was pissed because I had something to do at noon, and I figured I'd miss the entire game. I got home around 3 with the Braves ready to force Game 5, up 6-1 after a solo home run by future Yankee Brian McCann in the 8th inning. But Kyle Farnsworth was pitching the bottom half of the frame for the Braves (on his way to free agency and a three-year Yankee contract), and in retrospect, if you wrote this kind of foreshadowing into a novel, the publisher would throw it on the floor. Farnsworth came in with runners on first and second, and promptly allowed a double steal headed by noted speedster Eric Bruntlett*, which he followed with a walk to load the bases for future Yankees Lance Berkman. Berkman crushed a 2-1 pitch for a grand slam.
Brad Ausmus hit a solo shot with 2 out in the ninth, and then the fun started. The game went on another 3 hours, and a full nine more innings. I remember the catcher and the backup catcher for one team both taking turns playing first base.
There were baserunners in every inning. Stranded on second in the top of the 10th, and first and second in the bottom of the 10th. Second and third in the top of the 11th. Second in the top of the 12th. Man on first in the bottom of the 13th. Bases loaded in the top of the 14th. On first in the top of the 15th, and first and second in the bottom of the 15th. The 16th was actually clean frames on both sides, but then the bottom of the 17, the Braves finished the top half with another man on third. Top of the 18th, the Braves recorded two outs with a man on first.
And finally, in the bottom of the 18th, Chris Burke, who'd pinch-run for Berkman somewhere in that extra inning exercise in offensive futility), hit the biggest home run of his career (he only had 23 regular season home runs, so while I haven't done any research on it at all, I am completely confident saying that was Burke's biggest career moment). Amazingly, the exact same fan caught both Berkman's slam and Burke's walk-off.
*Bruntlett, career: 31 SB, 8 CS; 2005: 7, 2
Aug. 9, 2012 at Detroit Tigers. There's no real historical significance to the game. The Yankees won 4-3 following back-to-back eighth inning home runs from Mark Teixeira and Eric Chavez. It stands as my favorite simply because I was there in Detroit that day, basking in the Tigers fans' boos of Joaquin Benoit, who allowed the aforementioned home runs. It's great to look at how far the Tigers bullpen has come since that day (not very far at all). Oh, and Joe Girardi got ejected-- that's always fun.
Without a doubt, Jeter's 3,000th hit on Thursday, July 9, 2011. I'm not saying I had the game streaming at my former job, but I'm not saying I didn't have it playing either.
My favorite weekday afternoon game comes from Monday, July 7th, 2003. The Yankees were hosting the Red Sox, which by itself, added enough drama during those years. This was the game in which Pedro Martinez came up and in on both Alfonso Soriano and Derek Jeter in the games' first inning, eventually causing both to leave. Martinez and Mike Mussina dueled deep into the game with the score tied at one. In the bottom of the ninth, the Yankees mounted a rally against Boston reliever Byung-Hyun Kim (sound familiar?) and ultimately won the game on a grounder off the bat of Curtis Pride, the deaf outfielder who appeared in just four games that year for New York. In an era where nearly every single Yankees-Red Sox game was must-see television, this one contained nearly all the components: Pedro pitching, Pedro hitting prominent Yankees, Enrique Wilson crushing Pedro (two doubles in this game), and a walk-off win.
So having grown up in Malaysia and lived in London, I've never been in a timezone with afternoon games. Back in Mys though, 'night' games were in the morning, and once I got my first phone with Internet, around 2006, I would sneak-follow games in class. I was a huge Chien-Ming Wang, and never failed to follow a start. I have been thrown out of class more than once for being on my phone...
More of a day game that evolved into a night game, but I'll go with the home opener in 1998. It was a Friday afternoon and the Yankees beat the A's 17-13 in a game that included a 12-run 5th inning. David Cone didn't quite have his best stuff giving up 9 on 11 hits in 4.1 innings, but luckily the Yankees got more than that, including six in an inning off future savior Aaron Small.
If we're talking about general Yankees history, then I can't imagine any Yankees fan would have a much better memory of a weekday game than Bucky Dent breaking hearts in the 1978 one-game playoff at Fenway Park. For me specifically though, I remember one Yankee game in particular when I was in high school. I had to surreptitiously track it since, well, it was an afternoon game and I was still in school. In the pre-smart phone days, I had a Fox Sports app on my flip phone where I could refresh it check the scores of afternoon games. Then for last period, I had study hall, so I could go to a computer and use MLB Gameday.
This was a tight game between the Yankees and Blue Jays, and I was almost tempted to stop checking when Toronto took a commanding 7-2 lead. Hell, the Blue Jays surprisingly crushed Chien-Ming Wang to get that lead, and it was demoralizing any time that happened. Fortunately, the Yankees rallied to get the game close again thanks to a two-run homer from Wilson Betemit of all people. By this point, I had walked home with one of my friends to actually watch the game. They were still losing in the ninth inning with dominant closer B.J. Ryan in the game. They scored a run, put a man on base, and then Jason Giambi crushed a pinch-hit walk-off homer.
Now if only every day of school could have ended like that...
I have been to a lot of day games with a lot of different memories. However, one stands out above all others and that was April 16th, 2009, also known as Inaugural Day for Yankee Stadium III. It's no secret that I love Yankee Stadium II a lot more than the new place. YSII was my baseball home for so long. But that day was just such a memorable experience for me because I was there for work, during my internship at SNY at the time. I was there to get soundbites and everything, but it was also a reward for all the hard work I did before the baseball season began. I got to see everything, and I do mean everything. I was there early, so I got to wander around the stadium a bit before the doors officially opened. I got to see the locker room, the bullpen, the press box and where they eat, the YES booth, and more. I got to go on the field both before and after the game was over with. I got to sit in the dugout after the game was over with and I have the photos to prove it. I was in the big press conference room during the interviews and pressers. I was in the locker room getting soundbites from a lot of my favorite players growing up. I didn't even care that the Yankees lost, because the overall experience was simply overwhelming. Despite my few gripes with the new stadium, getting to see just about everything about it that day will always hold a special place in my heart. It was awesome.
For some reason, the day game that sticks out most to me is a really random one. On July 21, 2010, the Yankees led the Angels 6-5 in the bottom of the seventh. After Juan Miranda homered to put the Yankees up 7-5, Curtis Granderson and Francisco Cervelli hit back-to-back doubles to bring Brett Gardner to the plate. After falling behind 0-2 to Scot Shields, Gardner began arguing balls and strikes with the umpire and was promptly ejected. Colin Curtis was sent up to finish the at bat. That's THE Colin Curtis of 64 career plate appearances. Despite coming up with the count 0-2, Curtis managed to work it full. Then the cancer survivor put one over the right field wall to put the Yankees up 10-5. Curtis got a curtain call and the Yankees won 10-6. Baseball is weird.
Those are out answers and now it's your turn. What's your favorite Yankees' day game memories?