November Baseball

Game four of the 2001 World Series was historic in many ways. The Arizona Diamondbacks had won the first two games at then Bank One Ballpark. The next three games moved to Yankee Stadium in the Bronx.

In Game three the Yankees sent Roger Clemens to the mound to face Brian Anderson and the Arizona Diamondbacks. It was a classic pitcher’s duel. Clemens threw seven innings allowing just one run on three hits. Anderson pitched well himself allowing just two runs on five hits in 5.1 innings of work.

The win set up a game four match-up of Curt Schilling for Arizona and Orlando Hernandez for New York. Under a full moon, the two teams would match up on October 31, Halloween. Schilling threw seven stellar innings allowing one run on three hits.

The Yankees would score first on a home run by Shane Spencer in the third inning. The Diamondbacks would come back with a home run by first baseman Mark Grace to tie the game in the top of the fourth.

Arizona would take the lead in the eighth on a double by Erubiel Durazo scoring Luis Gonzalez. Durazo would score on a fielder’s choice by Matt Williams to give the Diamondbacks a 3-1 lead.

In the bottom of the eighth inning Diamondbacks manager Bob Brenly brought in his closer Byung-Hyun Kim to face the bottom of the Yankees order. He struck out Spencer, Scott Brosius, and Alfonzo Soriano in a 1-2-3 inning. The Diamondbacks likewise went down in order setting up a bottom of the ninth inning with the visitors being up two runs.

The inning started with Derek Jeter grounding out followed by a single by Paul O’Neill and a strikeout by Bernie Williams. With two outs Tino Martinez came to the plate and hit a home run to right-center field to tie the game.

I remember that moment like it was yesterday; that dulling numbness that comes when victory is snatched away at the very last moment. I was in shock but that was not the worst part. That would come an inning later.

With the full moon high above the stadium, Jeter strode to the plate. Brosius and Soriano had both flied out Kim threw eight pitches to Jeter who fouled off balls bring the count full. On the ninth pitch as the clock struck midnight Jeter hit a home run to seal the victory for the Yankees tying the series 2-2.

The Yankees hometown announcers proclaimed Jeter “Mr. November”, a title he was ill fitted to maintain. What was most historic was not the home run as much as it was the time. For the first season in history baseball had stretched into November.

The season had gone this long as a result of the attacks on September 11, 2001. It seemed almost surreal to think that baseball was still going on in November. The 2001 World Series would not end that night; it would conclude three days later in Phoenix Arizona.

Perhaps the most famous bloop single in MLB history over the outstretched arms of the so-called “Mr. November” would score Jay Bell and make Luis Gonzalez a Diamondbacks immortal.

Here we are nine years later and once again the World Series is being played in November. This time though it was not a result of a delay but actually scheduled to continue this late. There were no late inning heroics.

The offense is not the talk of this game in November. Instead it is two dominating pitchers. One hopes to lead his team back from the brink of elimination while the other hopes to carry his team to victory, a victory not tasted in over half a century.

Regardless of the story lines, baseball fans everywhere can rejoice that every game played from this point on brings us one day closer to February when pitchers and catchers will report to Spring Training and usher in another season.


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