Pinstriped glory, the greatest moments in Yankee history part seven: Aaron Boone’s signature Yankee moment

Aaron Boone got the job of a lifetime this off season, not that he didn’t have great careers in the past as he was a professional baseball player for many years and then got to live out many sports fans dreams by working as a commentator on Sunday Night Baseball. Then this winter after a lengthy interview process Boone got the call from Yankees GM Brian Cashman, he was to become the next Yankees manager. Boone is off to a 4-2 start as the Yanks skipper, but the new head honcho has been a fan favorite for years, thanks to one memorable hit in October 2003.

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Boone comes from a great baseball family, his grandfather Ray, father Bob and brother Brett all got to play in the big leagues. Boone’s career started in 1997 with the Cincinnati Reds. Boone made his debut alongside his brother Brett, and the Larkin brothers Stephen and the legendary hall of fame shortstop Barry.  He made his lone All-Star appearance in 2003 representing the Reds. Needing some help at the hot corner following the poor play of Robin Ventura (traded to Los Angeles on 7/31/2003) the Yankees struck a deal with the Reds to bring Boone to the Bronx. It would turn out to be one of the best deals in Cashman’s brilliant tenure. Boone played in 54 games for the Yankees hitting a mediocre .254 with six home runs and 31 RBI’s.


The Yankees won the American League East in 2003 by six games with a record of 101 and 61.  They disposed of the Minnesota Twins in the ALDS winning in four games. They would meet their longtime rivals the Boston Red Sox in the ALCS. It was a clash of the titans as both teams possessed potent offenses and very good pitching staffs. The series was an instant classic, each game very close. New York won games two, three and five while Boston won games one, four and six. Everything would come down to a decisive game seven, and the Yankees had a difficult test in front of them, in the form of Red Sox ace Pedro Martinez. The Yankees countered with their own superstar flame-thrower Roger Clemens. Martinez bested Clemens most of the evening and Boston held a 5-2 lead going into the bottom of the eighth inning. Everyone knows what happens next, Boston manager Grady Little pulls one of the most bonehead moves off all time and leaves an obviously fatigued Martinez in the game to long. Back to back doubles by Hideki Matsui and Jorge Posada tied the game and ended Martinez’s night. Mariano Rivera and Tim Wakefield each tossed scoreless tenth inning frames to send the game to the eleventh where once again the great Rivera was flawless. Which leads us to one of the greatest moments in Yankee history.


Aaron Boone stepped up to the plate to lead off the bottom of the eleventh. Boone had entered the game earlier as a pinch runner and hadn’t had much success with the bat in the series. On the other hand, Tim Wakefield on the mound had already won two games earlier in the series. Wakefield released his patented knuckleball towards home plate. The ball fluttered towards the center of the plate, Boone was sitting dead red as he waited on the slow pitch perfectly. Boone swung and launched the ball into deep left field.  Red Sox left fielder Manny Ramirez took a step or two toward the wall and then stopped, it was very clear where this ball was landing. The ball landed in the stands and all 56,279 fans erupted. The Yankees were going back to the World Series. The images still remain clear to this day, Boone rounding the bases jumping into a pile of his teammates at home, Tim Wakefield ever the class act just walking slowly off the field, Trot Nixon pouting in the Boston dugout, and our heroic Mariano Rivera crying after his incredible relief performance. Boone added another chapter into the historic rivalry. 2003 would be his lone season in pinstripes (as a player), in the winter of 2003 he suffered a knee injury playing a game of pickup basketball. That prompted the Yankees to go out and acquire Alex Rodriguez from the Rangers.


The Yankees would fall short of their ultimate goal in 2003 losing in six games to the Florida Marlins in the World Series. Marlins ace Josh Beckett went on to pitch seven years for Boston and as mentioned before A-Rod would become a central figure in the rivalry from 2004-2016. None of that would have been possible without Boone’s heroics on that autumn night in the Bronx back on October 16, 2003. To our new skipper, may 2018 be a successful season for you and let’s add more memories of you to that amazing one from 17.5 years ago.


Article by Fave Ruggiero


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