As a fan since 1993, watching the Yankees grow into contendership and the eventual reignition of the rivalry between the Yanks and the Red Sox has been one of the most entertaining, hair-pulling, stress-inducing, heartbreaking (looking at you , 2014 ALCS) experiences of my baseball fandom. There's plenty of great (and terrible) moments in my time that I could talk about, but my favorite comes from the 2003 ALCS.
Nope, it's not the Aaron Boone home run, though it would be timely considering Boone is now the skipper of the New York Yankees. The moment I'm thinking comes earlier in the series.
Game 3. Top of the 3rd Inning.
To set the stage, let's return to the bottom of the 2nd inning. Roger Clemens (former Red Sock, former ace who was having a "career renaissance") threw a little close to Manny Ramirez' head. Manny didn't take kindly to it, and the benches emptied. Don Zimmer, Joe Torre's bench coach and longtime friend, got involved with Pedro Martinez, Yankee villain and arguably the most dominant pitcher of the era. Pedro, being the sweet, kind gentleman that he is, sidesteps Zim and gives him a shove. Zimmer, being an octogenarian, loses his footing and falls over. This obvious got my blood boiling as a 19 year old Yankees fan. I loved Zim, he was like the team's mascot during the dynasty days, which wasn't that long ago at that point in time.
There's a 13 minute game delay, and then Clemens finished off Ramirez and the inning.
Enter Derek Jeter. Derek Jeter, who was just named The Captain that year in June, came up to the plate. Jeter, the most tenured position player behind Bernie Williams, the player who affectionately rubbed Zimmer's bald head for luck, was leading off against Pedro Martinez. Pedro Martinez, the greatest pitcher of his time and era, who had yet to tip his cap and call the Yankees his Daddies.
Pedro grooves a hanging 71 mile an hour curveball... and Jeter CRUSHES IT. The ball is a no doubter that's hit over the Green Monster. I remember distinctly hearing the call on the radio, with John Stirling calling it. I had never been to Fenway Park (still haven't) and didn't have an idea of the dimensions of the Green Monster, and I had never heard of anyone hitting it over the Monster, especially in a playoff game (I'm sure there were other big homers hit over the Green Monster, but I was 19 and I didn't know better)... my mind was blown. I was jumping for joy and ecstatic. It was a tie game, 2 - 2, and Jeter had avenged Zim.
Of course, the series would go the full 7 games, and they'd lose the World Series, and wouldn't see another championship for 6 more years, but that moment has always stuck in my mind. Jeter didn't hit a lot of home runs, but between this one and Mr. November, he sure hit some memorable ones.