They are the Major League Baseball games I remember watching most on TV. From when I was a kid to now, certain games will always leave an indelible impression on my mind, for extremely various reasons.
6. 2001 All Star Game: July 10, 2001.
Along with Chipper Jones and Derek Jeter, one other soon-to-be Hall of Famer stood out to me as a kid.
Cal Ripken, Jr.
This All Star game just happened to be his last and I was on hand in my room to watch him (and Tony Gwynn) play. Also, mind you, 2001 was the zenith of my young baseball fervor.
So how did the two perform? Well, Gywnn struck out but Ripken shot a homer! It’s such a small memory but it still makes me smile knowing that I was able to watch it happen.
5. Phillies @ Yankees: November 4, 2009. World Series, Game 6.
Exactly eight years later to the night, I was in my dorm room as a Freshman in college watching g my beloved Yankees of old playing in the World Series. What had happened in 2001’s game seven was not to be the end result this time around and I remember Hideki Matsui giving an MVP performance and Andy Pettite putting the Phillies away for the World Championship that I spent my entire teen years waiting for.
4. Red Sox @ Yankees: October 16, 2003. American League Championship Series, Game 7.
Unlike the last two entries, this one will be shorter… Alas, this game was nine years ago now and all I remember is that the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry had never been more heated. It was game seven now, another must-win situation for both teams. I was again in my bedroom this time a twelve year old sporting my best Yankees shirt and cap.
The game was sooooo long! At least to me then, it was 12 innings and I had never stayed up so late before to watch a game. Well, my dedication paid off big time when I vividly remember Aaron Boone launching a game winning homer into the left field stands at Yankee Stadium. It was incredible to follow that baseball in the air with the cameras flashing all around it.
3. Yankees @ Diamondbacks: November 4, 2001. World Series, Game 7.
This was the first World Series I ever watched. It had rewarded me immensely with the Yankees who’s roster I had ever baseball card too, battling the Arizona Diamondbacks. I had even just been given a new Bernie Williams t-shirt with his name and number on the back. Trust me, I could not wait to wear that shirt proudly to school the next day.
Well, things didn’t go quite as I had planned. I remember very forlornly laying in my bed in the dark, way past my bedtime, Luis Gonzalez of Arizona hitting a walk off BLOOPER into right field… I was so disappointed watching the NOT YANKEES celebrate on the field… Alas, I would not get to watch the opposite until the 2009 Series.
The next day I decided that yes, I would still bear my team with pride, only to have my P.E. coach Halloway say, “I wouldn’t be wearing that shirt today!”
Eleven years after that night, everything surrounding it is still so clear in my mind.
2. Cardinals @ Braves: October 5, 2012. National League Wild Card Game
Chipper Jones was one of my favorite players growing up. Every spring here in Kissimmee, I watched him and the Braves play, and then one day I was lucky enough for the man to pick my ball from a throng of other autograph seekers, and sign his name in glorious all-lasting Sharpie. Well, on this day, wearing my Braves cap from Little League, I watched a recording of the previous night’s Wild Card elimination game; the first of it’s kind, winner take all and advance to the National League Division Series.
Starting off the game the Braves quickly scored two runs and I was pleased to say the least. However, in the fourth inning, Chipper proved that he is indeed mortal with a throwing error to second, which cost Atlanta three runs… Ok, I thought, one run is no big deal, right? And normally it isn’t for one of the best teams in the National League, but the defense soon gave away two more errors and three more runs… the score was 6-3 by the eighth inning.
Oh boy, the eighth inning. This, my friends, is really where things got out of hand. The set up is this: The Braves have one out and with runners on first and second; it’s rally time and everyone knows it. So guess what happens? The hitter pops up to left field so I’m thinking, oh ok, one more out, but then nobody catches it! Bases loaded! Not so fast! Wait, what? Apparently, the umps called into action the rare infield fly rule. I won’t go into what the rules states, but it left the hitter out and the runners only advancing one base. Now I’m sitting at home scratching my heads, while the 52,000 Braves fans are at Turner Field throwing their trash onto the field! I sympathized with them completely and I couldn’t deny that it was great television. In the end, it was a 19 minute game delay with the huddled umpires ultimately keeping the original ruling. Suddenly, this promising bases loaded rally was deflated and the game goes into the bottom of the ninth still scored 6-3.
The Braves have two outs with nobody on. And who should be the last hitter up? Chipper Jones of course. After tipping his hat to the fans he works the count into a 2-2 split when—————– Huh? The TV says, “Would you like to keep this recording?”
I mournfully realize that the recording has come to an end at the MOST ANTICIPATED MOMENT OF THE WHOLE NIGHT. I don’t know what to do…. I turn it off. I go into my room. and i read on wikipedia (because I didn’t quite want to blow the ending for me on MLB.com) and read that Chipper had recorded a broken bat single! Hope was not lost! The Braves still had a chance!
Well, not quite. I went to MLB.com expecting the predictable and indeed the game ended still scored 6-3, Cardinals. The game was over but holy cow, I had not expected anything like that when I pressed play on that recording.
1. Yankees @ Rays: September 28, 2011. Game 162.
I will not even go into all the insanity that transpired that night. You know the story, the drama. And if not, don’t worry, a movie will be sure to come out soon. What basically happened was that throughout September the Tampa Bay Rays gradually staged one of the greatest late season comebacks in the history of the game, and it culminated in being down one game to the Red Sox for the wild card spot, on the last game of the season.
Well, throughout the evening, I am alone in my bedroom holding my bat in hands. While watching the Rays and Yankees I’m keeping an eye on the ensuing Red Sox-Orioles game. The formula was easy. Red Sox lose, Rays win, and we go to the playoffs. OOHHH if anything could have been farther from easy…. What ACTUALLY happened was that the Red Sox were winning there game into the ninth, 3-2, and in St. Petersburg, the Rays were losing 7-0 in the EIGHTH INNING. I gave up, but Yogi’s words rang distant in my subconscious… “It ain’t over till it’s over.”
Of course, Yogi was right, and the Rays clawed and chewed their way back to score seven runs by the end of the ninth! Thanks to a Dan Johnson homer with two outs. Whew! The game continued into extras.
So I’m still sitting in my bed, this time clutching the bat hard than ever and feeling real anxious. It is the twelfth inning now and every things on the line when Evan Longoria comes up. Through the broadcasters I hear that the Orioles have come from behind to beat Boston 4-3! What? Only in baseball does this happen. The scored flashes at Tropicana Field, the crowd roars knowing the possibility now. The camera flashes to the Tampa Bay dugout and seeing the looks on those guys’ faces made me see the possibility too. Indeed, Longoria drilled a home run and walks off a champion.
I lost my shit.
Immediately I tear down the hall of my apartment screaming and whooping. It was the greatest night in baseball history by all accounts.