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Andy Pettitte’s dominant Game Two performance was the most emotional moment of the 2003 World Series

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A performance from Pettitte that left the fans chanting his name was one of few bright spots for the Yankees in the ‘03 World Series.

19 Oct 2003: Andy Pettitte of the New York Yankees during the Yanks’ 6-1 victory over the Florida Marlins in game 2 of the World Series at Yankee Stadium in New York, NY. Photo by John Dunn/Sporting News via Getty Images via Getty Images

Being a Yankee fan born in 1991, most of the moments I remember from my early fandom are good ones. The first memory I have of watching a game on TV is from sometime in the 1996 season. Sure, I have memories of the Luis Gonzalez hit in 2001 and 2004 when (redacted), but but those are few and far between.

In choosing the most emotional moment of the 2003 World Series, you could pick one specific play or game that negatively impacted things. However, even though they exist, they don’t really stand out in my mind. The most emotional moment from the 2003 World Series is a good one, although still a heart-breaking one considering what happened after that — both in the series, and in the offseason.

The Yankees sent Andy Pettitte to the mound in Game Two of the World Series on just three days rest. Just as he had been in the ALDS and ALCS, Pettitte was tasked with trying to get the team back in the series after they had dropped game one.

Pettitte allowed a single to Luis Castillo in the first, but then got Ivan Rodriguez to strike out, with Castillo being thrown out as part of a double play. After that, no other Marlins hits would reach the outfield until a seventh inning single by Rodriguez. In the meantime, Pettitte had only allowed a bunt single and a walk with one other runner reaching via error. As that was going on, the Yankees had built up a 6-0 lead thanks in large part to home runs from Hideki Matsui and Alfonso Soriano.

In the seventh and eighth innings, Pettitte worked around lead off singles to keep Florida off the board. He was sent back out for the ninth with a chance to finish off a complete game shutout. He retired two of the first three hitters he faced as the stadium chanted his name. However an error and a single then got the Marlins on the board, leading to Joe Torre removing him from the game. He may have not had a shutout, but throwing 8.2 scoreless innings in a nearly-must win World Series game is nothing to scoff at. Jose Contreras came in and got a ground out to finish off a 6-1 win, evening the series at one game apiece.

This might be my memory playing tricks on me, but the one thing I have a genuine memory of in my mind is Pettitte being interviewed by FOX on the field immediately after the game. (It seems pretty likely that the guy who threw a near complete game shutout would get the traditonal “player of the game” interview.) In my mind, the “An-dy Pett-itte” chants continued through the interview. (Which might not be true, I can’t find video evidence either way.)

At that point, the elephant in the room was that Pettitte was going to be a free agent at the conclusion of the season. While plenty of 1-1 series go to at least six games, it wasn’t impossible that his game two performance would be his final as a member of the Yankees at home. After the game, plenty of his teammates had quotes about the team needing to bring Pettitte back. It turns out, it would not be his last home start as a Yankee. However, that wasn’t because they brought him back.

Pettitte would be the losing pitcher in Game Six as the Marlins clinched the title in the Bronx. However, it’s hard to blame him too much for a seven-inning, two-run performance where his lineup gave him no run support. In the offseason, Pettitte would sign a three-year, $31.5 million contract after the Yankees didn’t really go hard after him. He would help the Astros to a World Series appearance in 2005. Meanwhile, the Yankees had disappointing playoff exits in the ‘04, ‘05, and ‘06 seasons with fans bemoaning the lack of pitching.

Thankfully, the Yankees would learn lessons from Pettitte’s departure. They would re-sign him ahead of the 2007 season, and he would go on to be the starting pitcher in the Game Six, championship-clinching win in the 2009 World Series. He would remain with the team off and on all the way through 2013, making an All-Star appearance in 2010, and giving the Yankees at least league-average pitching the whole time.

There are some series-changing moments from 2003 you can choose as the most disappointing/emotional, but there’s not one standout a la 2001. Therefore, my choice is the team’s homegrown, beloved ace giving his heart and soul to get the team back in the series, only for it not being good enough to win a title or for even for the team to bring him back.