10/30/09 7:02 PM EST
Yanks hope Halloween sequel tops '01
First Oct. 31 game was classic that lifted Bombers and NYC
By Anthony DiComo / MLB.com
Jeter hit a walk-off home run in the 10th inning after an improbable Yankees comeback with two outs in the ninth that night, sinking the D-backs in Game 4 of the 2001 World Series.
"Obviously 2001, I remember that," said Andy Pettitte, a member of that club and the Yankees' starting pitcher for Saturday night's World Series Game 3 in Philadelphia at 7:57 ET, only the second Major League game to be played on Halloween.
The first one was about more than merely a comeback. Seven weeks earlier, baseball and just about every other aspect of New York City life halted, after hijackers flew two planes into the World Trade Center in downtown Manhattan.
Six days later, Major League Baseball made the decision to resume play around the country. And the Yankees took to it, winning their division for the fourth consecutive season and knocking off the Mariners, one of the best regular-season teams in history, in the American League Championship Series.
Because of the September delay, the postseason was pushed back later than before, and for the first time in history, the World Series was scheduled to stretch into November. Perhaps the calendar flip was supposed to occur while the dynastic Yankees and the upstart D-backs were sleeping. But it did not turn out quite like that.
Instead, New York, down to its final out against Arizona closer Byung-Hyun Kim, found new life when Tino Martinez sent a two-run homer screaming into the old Yankee Stadium seats, tying the game at 3.
The Yankees, at that moment, were America's team. Loved by many and hated by plenty, they nonetheless became an inspiration for a city still recovering from one of its greatest tragedies and for a nation looking on with vested interest.
When Jeter, an inning later, sent everybody home with the solo shot that tied the series, it was only natural to consider the Yankees a team of destiny -- a sentiment that grew stronger the next night, when Scott Brosius homered to tie Game 5 off Kim, again with two outs in the ninth.
"It was a special time," Jeter said. "Especially in New York City, after Sept. 11 playing in those games -- they were pretty emotional. Those three games in New York were probably three of the most exciting games that I've been a part of. The atmosphere at Yankee Stadium was unbelievable, so that's what stands out the most."
"In New York, obviously after 9/11, New York games were unbelievable," catcher Jorge Posada said. "I remember the fans and the way we lifted New York and the way we were a big part of that city."
The dramatic conclusion, however, was not what the city expected. After two riveting comebacks, the Yankees were blown out in Game 6 before losing a dramatic Game 7, when Luis Gonzalez dropped a walk-off bloop single over a drawn-in infield, stunning the legendary Mariano Rivera.
"You saw the light at the end of the tunnel," reliever Mike Stanton said that day, "and it was taken away."
Retirements and free agency changed the Yankees that offseason, effectively ending the dynasty after a run of five pennants and four World Series titles. The Bombers had hit their peak.
At the time, it was impossible to envision that they would go another seven years without winning a World Series, losing in 2003 before enduring a five-year Series drought. Now, though, they are back, drawing comparisons to their predecessors of the late 1990s. And due to a quirk of the schedule, necessitated by the World Baseball Classic in March, their fans are guaranteed to see at least another two World Series games in November.
Because of Saturday's start time in Philadelphia, there's even a fair chance that Game 3, like Game 4 in 2001, could seep into November.
And if it does, the Yankees can rest easy, knowing they have the advantage of employing baseball's only certified Mr. November.
Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.