Welcome to the House of Ruth

This will be the third entry is a continuation of the saga of the 2001 World Series run of the Arizona Diamondbacks that started with the Five Short Years Ago entry. After a travel day the World Series would resume in New York. In their day off, several of the Arizona Diamondbacks players would make a trip to ground zero to see the devastation from the September 11 attacks. It was a somber experience that would impact their lives for ever. Even five years later they speak of that visit and what it meant to them. The people of New York needed a diversion from tragedy they were still dealing with and the World Series would be the perfect thing. Security was already tight for this series but even more so for Game 3 when it was discovered that President George W. Bush would throw out the ceremonial first pitch. During the pre-game, Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter met the president in the tunnels and offered a couple of tips. Stand on the pitcher’s rubber to throw. If you stand in front of the mound the fans will boo you. Second, don’t throw the pitch in the dirt or the fans will boo you. It was sound advice that the president obviously took to heart. He confidently stood on the mound and waved to the cheering fans then threw a perfect strike bringing more cheering from the fans. With that game 3 would begin with the Yankees looking for their first win after being dominated the first two games in Arizona.

While all of this was happening in New York, I was in Arizona facing my own dilemma. Each year the elementary school holds something they call the Pumpkin Walk. All of the elementary school children bring a pumpkin to school and carve jack-o-lanterns. They are then placed inside and outside the school and members of the community including the children, parents, and friends walk through the maze of pumpkins admiring the children’s work. Of all days to have the pumpkin walk, the school chose this one. With our kids actively involved in this, I was expected to be in attendance. Didn’t anyone understand that the Diamondbacks were in the World Series playing in the house that Ruth built and facing the evil empire Yankees? Up until the moment that the pumpkin walk started I was glued to the television. Trina loaded the kids into the car and pulled it out of the garage. She had the radio tuned to KTAR. All I would miss would be the pitch that was thrown from the time I left the television until I could run to the car. I could then listen in the car until we got to the school. Once we got there, we would just have to deal with a potential coverage blackout. Fortunately, the school recognized that there were probably several people just like me and they made the necessary arrangements. As we walked to the school grounds they had set up a projector television and were broadcasting the World Series game against the wall of the school.

The Arizona Diamondbacks had their work cut out for them as the Yankees sent starter Roger Clemens to the mound to face Diamondbacks left-hander Brian Anderson. The tone for the game was set early when lead off hitter Craig Counsell reached base on an error by Yankee second baseman Alfonso Soriano. Diamondback fans hopes were quickly dashed when Clemens picked off Counsell in a questionable call. After a walk to Steve Finley, the Yankees turned a double play when Clemens struck out Luis Gonzalez and Jorge Posada threw out Finley who was trying to steal second. Brian Anderson took the mound and was poised for a big game. After getting through the first inning allowing only one hit, Anderson faced Posada to start the bottom of the second. Posada hit a home run to give the Yankees a 1-0 lead with their best pitcher on the mound. The Diamondbacks hitters struggled to figure out Clemens but did get something going in the fourth inning.

Steve Finley led off the inning with his second walk of the game. Luis Gonzalez singled to left to move Finley to second. Reggie Sanders flew out to right field but Finley moved to third on the play. With runners on first and third with 1 out Erubiel Durazo walked to lad the bases. Matt Williams hit a sacrifice fly to right field that scored Finley and allowed Gonzalez to move to third. With 2 outs Mark Grace grounded out to Soriano to end the inning with the score now tied 1-1. Anderson continued to step up his game making this a classic pitcher’s duel. In the bottom of the sixth momentum changed in the game. Bernie Williams led off with an infield single to short. Tino Martinez hit a foul ball down the first base line that should have been caught but Grace and catcher Damian Miller collided and the ball was dropped. This gave the Yankees a glimpse of light. After Martinez flied out to Reggie Sanders, Anderson threw a wild pitch during Posada’s at-bat allowing Williams to go to second. Posada walked to give the Yankees runners on first and second with 1 out. Brenly had seen enough and pulled Anderson who threw 5.1 innings and allowed 5 hits. Uncharacteristically he had allowed 3 walks but the Diamondbacks were very much in this game. Mike Morgan came in to pitch and struck out David Justice and it looked like the Diamondbacks may just get out of the inning. Scott Brosius broke his bat but singled to left field which scored Bernie Williams. Morgan then threw a wild pitch that allowed Posada to move to third and Brosius to second. It could have gotten out of hand but Soriano grounded out to Tony Womack to end the inning.

That was all the offense needed behind Clemens who threw 7 innings allowing 1 run on 3 hits while striking out 9. Mariano came in to pitch 2 perfect innings not allowing a hit and striking out 4. In the end the Yankees were victorious and were now only behind 2 games to 1 in the series. As the final out was recorded I looked around to find a couple die hard fans and a few pumpkins were all that remained at the pumpkin walk.

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