BRONX, N.Y. — On this date in 2003, Aaron Boone’s home run earned the New York Yankees the American League Pennant. The blast off Tim Wakefield in the bottom of the eleventh inning secured the 39th pennant in franchise history. The 6-5 victory also prolonged the “Curse of the Bambino” for the Boston Red Sox for one more year.
The home run for me signifies a much simpler time. Not only did the walk-off homer keep the streak alive in the rivalry, but it was also essentially the last signature moment of the old Yankee Stadium. In a vacuum and in the moment, heck, maybe even today, it still likely registers as my all-time favorite game. A Game 7 ALCS classic.
You had the big comeback from a 4-0 deficit. Mike Mussina in relief keeping the game within striking distance. Jason Giambi’s two large chip away home runs. The big three-run, eighth-inning rally with big hits from Derek Jeter, Bernie Williams, Hideki Matsui, and capped off by Jorge Posada’s game-tying two-run double and ensuing fist pump off Pedro Martinez. Mariano Rivera’s heroic three scoreless frames of relief and collapse on the mound after Boone’s home run.
Granted, what transpired in the 2003 World Series, Boone’s offseason pickup basketball injury, 2004 ALCS, all the way up to Boone the manager using an opener in 2020 ALDS Game 2 has taken some of the luster off. Yet, in that moment in time, you couldn’t beat it.