“I Was There!”: The Scott Brosius Game: 2001 World Series Game 5
Scott Brosius. Just hearing the name brings back memories.
Those great Yankees teams of the late 90’s. Stocked with clutch hitters, solid pitchers and terrific defense. And solid guys too. Home grown talent (Jeter, Williams, Posada, Mariano) with just the right mix of key free agents (Tino Martinez, Paul O’Neill, Scott Brosius). But no super duper stars (well, except for Derek Jeter, of course). This was the definition of a true team.
So when I heard that Brosius was returning to the Bronx to throw out the ceremonial first pitch at tonight’s Game 6 at the Stadium, I didn’t think of his World Series MVP in 1998 on a historically great Yankees team. I didn’t think of his gold glove for sparkling third base play in 1999. No, I thought of his game-tying two out, two-run home run in the bottom of the 9th to send Game 5 of the 2001 World Series into extra innings.
In case you’ve forgotten, let me remind you of the context surrounding that home run. It was 2001. The city was suffering from a major case of post-traumatic stress brought on by the 9/11 attacks. Well, at least I was. The baseball season had been delayed as a result, pushing the World Series into late October and early November. The Yankees’ success represented one of the bright spots in an otherwise dark fall in the city.
Facing the NL Champion Arizona Diamondbacks in the World Series, the Yankees lost the first two games at Arizona, returning to New York trailing 2-0. Interesting note, the Diamondbacks were the last NL team to have home field advantage in the World Series. After winning Game 3 (GWB threw out the first pitch), the now famous Derek Jeter Mr. November game took place (I’m not going to recount the details of that game – we all remember what happened with Tino’s home run to tie and Jeter’s home run to win).
I watched Game 4 in my living room, on my couch, and was feeling pretty down. When Jeter hit that home run off D’backs closer Byung-Hyun Kim, it was as if something inside me came back to life. I said to myself, “This is ridiculous. I live here. I love the Yankees. I need to be at the game tomorrow night.”
I called a friend the next morning and asked him if he wanted to go to the World Series that night if I could get tickets. He is from Texas and is a big football fan and had never been to a major league baseball game. He said he would come so I set out to get tickets on Craig’s List. I found a pair, took the train to god knows where middle of Brooklyn and picked them up from the shady seller. But I had the tickets. And we were going to the game.
As the Yankees entered the bottom of the ninth trailing 2-0 and with closer BK Kim back on the mound again, there was a palpable buzz in the Stadium. It was as if everybody in the crowd had the same thought: “This couldn’t happen again. Or could it?” It was too much to hope for. Lightning really doesn’t strike twice.
But Posada doubled to lead off, and we got really excited. Maybe. Just maybe this could happen. But Kim got the next two outs, leaving it up to Brosius. I can see it in my mind’s eye like it was yesterday – the pitch from Kim, the swing from Brosius, and there it went, over the left field wall. Brosius’ arm in the air.
We were tied at two! Oh my god. Did that really just happen? Again? My friend and I jumped up and down and celebrated like mad. High fives everywhere. Gasps. Fans had absolutely lost it. Yankee Stadium was shaking. It was the first time I’d ever felt the Stadium shake (and the last time until Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS).
By the way, the game wasn’t over of course. And it went into extra innings, when Soriano drove in Knoblauch for the winning run in the twelfth. I honestly didn’t remember who scored that run – I had to look it up on Wikipedia! All I remember was the Brosius home run, Kim’s shock and the joy and amazement that filled that Stadium. My friend – who had NEVER BEEN TO A BASEBALL GAME BEFORE – asked me if all Yankees games were like that one. He was only half-joking.
It’s also worth noting that it was Paul O’Neill’s last home game as a Yankee, and the crowd that night chanted his name in the 9th inning to thank him for all he’d done for the team. Another overlooked moment from a historic game. And isn’t that what’s great about baseball? Every night is a chance to witness history.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the 2001 Yankees became the first team in postseason history to win two straight games when trailing after eight innings.
That Yankees team would have loved pie. So with Brosius coming back tonight for the first pitch, here’s hoping for the same result for this 2009 pie-loving Yankees team. But maybe with a little less drama this time.