The 2001 and 2009 Yankees: An Ode to Baseball

In 2001, I was only ten years old but I knew that I loved one thing: The New York Yankees. Before that year I didn’t watch baseball, I wanted to be QB for the Miami Dolphins like Dan Marino, yet it was that team of 2001 that forever brought me into the folds of the American Pastime. And why the Yanks? I small town Southern boy like myself; my mom is from Cincinnati and an ardent Reds fan, for cryin’ out loud. But it was their history for me. It was the legacy that the Yankees have left in baseball.

Before the Internet was available to me I went to the library and read books about all the great players. Not just Yankees, but guys like Honus Wagner, Ty Cobb, Dizzy Dean, and Jackie Robinson. In these crucial moments any one of the teams they belonged to could have become my favorite. However, none of those guys’ exploits stood out to me the way Babe Ruth’s called shot in ’32 did. Or Lou Gehrig’s humbleness and generosity in the face of Death, or DiMaggio’s 46 consecutive hits, or the race for 61 between Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris. In short, not only were they great players but they were great men off the field as well. So with all that, it was no wonder I gravitated to the Yankees as my club.

Unbeknownst to me when I was ten, was that these 2001 Yanks were the last of the Dynasty from the late 1990’s and 2000. But looking back now, eight Octobers later, the 2001 Bombers were just as good. Sure they didn’t win the Series that year but they battled it out seven excruciating games- a hearty testament to that veteran dynasty roster. And as a ten year old kid, watching my first Fall Classic, it was more than I could have asked for. I remember it perfectly:  staying up way past my bed time watching Game 7 …

Earlier that day I had gone to Target with my family and my older brother David (who was over from England), bought me a Yankees t-shirt with Bernie Williams’ name and number #51 on the back. I was so happy and couldn’t wait to wear it in victory the next day at school. Of course victory was not the end result and the image of Luis Gonzalez’s Series winning bloop into shallow right field winning it all for the D-Backs, is still vivid in my psyche.

After that season the Yanks were never the same. They’ve only made the Series once since then (a 2003 loss to the Marlins) until this year, and despite the constant Division Championships and Pennants it’s the World Series that everyone remembers. In the end the Yankees of 2001 will always stand alone in my mind as the club that got me into baseball, the club that changed my life, and the club that gave me so much enjoyment.

Paul O’Neill OF

Chuck Knoblauch OF

Derek Jeter SS

David Justice DH

Bernie Williams OF

Tino Martinez 1B

Jorge Posada C

Alfonso Soriano 2B

Scott Brosius 3B

Now with all that said and done, I want to say something about this years Yankee club of 2009. No other team since the 2001 roster has deserved to win baseball’s biggest prize more than the guys playing right now. Perhaps I feel that way because it seems as if that old fervor is back in my bones. Sure I’ve watched baseball regularly since 2001, I remember every postseason and All-Star game, but this year seems different. It feels like I’m a ten year old kid again staying past my bedtime waiting for another Yankees championship, only this time I feel like it’ll come. But don’t get me wrong, I am by no means underestimating the Philadelphia Phillies. If anyone can topple the Bronx Bombers it is them- but when I watch the 2009 Yanks play I’m just reminded of the guys in 2001 and I take great pleasure in that. I sincerely hope that Jeter, Posada, and the rest can pull it off this year and turn a now 18 year old young man into 10 year old boy again.

Derek Jeter SS

Johnny Damon OF

Mark Teixeira 1B

Alex Rodriguez 3B

Jorge Posada C

Hideki Matsui DH

Robinson Cano 2B

Nick Swisher OF

Melky Cabrera OF


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