Saturday, August 18, 2007

Memorable moments

Well gang:
Over this past month, ESPN has been running down their picks for each team's top-3 home run in their respective franchise histories.
That got me to thinking -- as a diehard Yankee fan the past 30 years -- if I had to list MY, say, top-5 home runs in pinstripe history what would they be?
So here's my list of the five Yankee home runs that have been the most memorable to me.

5) Jim Leyritz home run against Atlanta in the 1996 World Series.
I truly believe the incredible run that Yankee have had was kickstarted by that game-tying bomb of Braves' closer Mark Woehlers, who was considered one of the top relief pitchers -- if not the premier closer -- of that day. That home run changed the complexion of that series because the Yankees were faced with going down 3-1 in the series.
Instead, they came back to win Game 4, tie the series at 2-2 and the rest -- as they say -- is history.

4) Don Mattingly home runs in 1995 playoffs against Seattle.
This is the first of my truly sentimental selections because, as we know, although the Yankees won that first game of the divisional series, the Mariners came back to win the series, 3-2. But anyone who calls him/her self a Yankee fan probably had that same shiver down their spine feeling when Mattingly connected.
Having grown up during the Mattingly-era and watching someone who was widely regarded as the best player in the game during that time on a team that wasn't good enough to make the playoffs until his final year in '95 ... I still get goosebumps today thinking about it.

3) Tino Martinez and Scott Brosius hit ninth-inning homers in back-to-back World Series games in 2001.
We've all seen the clips on great Yankee moments watching YES, but I remember being in complete awe when both guys connected for game-tying home runs off Arizona closer Byun-Hyung Kim. I believe both were two-out, two-run blasts so that made it even more memorable.
Although the Yankees did not win the World Series, with the nation in general and the state in particular still reeling from the event of 9/11, those two memories provided a moment of escape for many. And I'm not just talking about Yankee fans here. Over the years I've spoken with many Yankee haters who still regard that as something special.

2) Reggie Jackson hits three home runs in 1977 World series.
I was nearly 8-years-old at the time and that is truly my first Yankee memory. And in recently watching a couple of episodes of ESPN's "The Bronx is Burning" really refreshed my memory as to how Reggie struggled, not only for the season, but in the playoffs as well.
Then he hits three bombs on three consecutive pitches to basically cement his place in Yankee lore. All one needs to know about how much Reggie treasured the pinstripes is that although he spent the majority of his career elsewhere, he went into the Hall of Fame as a Yankee.

1) Graig Nettles hits two home runs against the Twins in 1980.
When I was writing about Mattingly, I told you all that was the first of my sentimental picks. Well, here is No. 2. To this day, Graig Nettles is my all-time favorite player. I tried to copy his left-handed swing as a right-handed hitter. I tried to emulate him fielding ground ball at third.
So when my dad took me to my first-ever game at Yankee Stadium on a dank, gray early-season game in April, imagine the thrill a 10-year-old boy would have seeing his idol hit not one, but two home runs. More than a quarter-century later I still believe Graig Nettles knew I was there, knew how big a fan I was, and hit those home runs for me.
Does that make me strange?
So that's my list, and for all you baseball fans out there -- whichever team you root for, think of those memorable home runs in your team's history. It was a lot of fun.
Until next time, take care and God bless.

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