How Derek Jeter's Yankees Broke A Young Boy's Heart
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How Derek Jeter's Yankees Broke A Young Boy's Heart


How Derek Jeter's Yankees Broke A Young Boy's Heart
U.S. National Archives / Flickr

Any New Yorker that lived through 9/11, I could tell you that the 2001 World Series, which took place about a month afterwards, meant much more to New Yorkers than just another baseball game. I was only in first grade and I could still sense the pride that New Yorkers had in their city and how much pride they had in their three-time defending champions, New York Yankees. Not too long before the series took place, the President of the United States, George W. Bush, stood on top of ground zero and delivered a speech directly to New Yorkers with a Bullhorn, saying that "I can hear you, and the rest of the world can hear you, and the people who knocked down these buildings will hear all of us soon." Then, for the first game of the series at Yankee stadium, President Bush threw out the first pitch with a big fleece sweatshirt with "FDNY" on the back. It was a perfect strike. The New York crowd roared so loud with chants of "USA" that my family could hear it in Staten Island.

Without looking it up on Google I can still recall the starting nine for the New York Yankees in the 2001 World Series: Roger Clemens was the Yankee Ace, Jorge Posada was the catcher, Tino Martinez played first, Alfonso Soriano played second, Brosious played third, Derek Jeter played shortstop, Paul O'Neil played left, Bernie Williams played center, Shea Spencer played right-field, Mariano Rivera was the closer, Luis Sojo was the utility player, and Joe Torre was the manager.

I could not recall all of the players or coaches on the Arizona Diamondbacks but I knew certain players very well: their pitching aces were Randy Johnson and Curt Schlling, the second-basemen was Craig Counsel — who had the most ridiculous batting stance — their shortstop was Tony Womack, their left-fielder was Luis Gonzalez, and their closer was Byung-yung-Kim.

Since the Yankees' games often went into extra innings and played their away games in a different time zone, the games would go past my 8 p.m. bedtime. Knowing I loved the Yankees but could not stay up late enough to watch the games, my dad would write a letter telling me about how the Yankees played the night before. Since he had to leave at 6 a.m. to put on his NYPD sergeant badge and get to work, he would leave the letter for my mom, who would read it to me first thing in the morning. I would go to sleep every night eager to wake up and hear how the Yankees played the night before.

After the Yankees played poorly in the first two games getting outscored 13-1, it seemed like the Yankees were going to get blown out the whole series. But then they won a 2-1 in Game three, bouncing back from an awful start.

For Game 4 I woke up to a note that gave me hope for the Yankees.

YANKEES WIN, BABY! The Yankees were losing 3-1 in the bottom of the ninth with two outs and a runner on first when Tino Martinez stepped up to the batter's box against Diamondbacks closer Byung-Yung-Kim. Then on the first pitch, Tino smacked a home run over the right-center field wall to put the game into extra innings.

Although I did not realize at the time, my eyes lit up and my heart started pumping faster as I hung on to every word my mom was reading...

In the bottom of the tenth, with Kim still on the mound, Jeter stepped to the plate. He fell behind 0-2 but then fouled a few pitches off and took a couple of balls. On the tenth pitch, he hit an opposite field home run over the 314 foot fence in right field. GAME WINNER! His new nickname is "Mr. November!" Series tied 2-2

Suddenly the Yankees, who were on the verge of falling behind in the series 3-1 and down to their last out, were back in the series. And my favorite player, who was struggling the whole series, was the hero. After hating school all year, going to school that day did not seem too terrible because at least I got to talk to my friends about the Yankees.

The next letter for Game 5 seemed oddly similar to Game 4, except there was an unlikely hero.

YANKEES WIN AGAIN! Yankees were losing 2-0 the whole game until the bottom of the ninth inning. Kim came in again for the save. Posada led off the inning with a double but then Kim got two quick outs. Then, Brosious came to the plate with a 1-0 count and hit a monster home run over the left-field wall to tie the game 2-2. In the bottom of the twelfth, Chuckie Knoblauch came through with a single, Brosious moved him over with a sac bunt, and then Soriano knocked him in with an RBI single to win Game 5. Yankees up 3-2.

Before this series, I had no idea who Byung-yung-Kim was, but I knew every time I heard his name that it meant good news for the Yankees. He blew two saves in a row with two-run leads and gave up two critical home runs that gave the Yankees momentum.

Unfortunately, the Yankees were blown out in Game 6 in Arizona 15-2, so New Yorkers had to wait for one more game for the Yankees to put their banner up for the fourth straight year.

Game Seven was on a Sunday that featured arguably the two best pitchers of my generation, Roger Clemens vs. Curt Schilling. Because the game was played in Arizona I couldn't manage to stay up and watch the whole game. The next morning I woke up to a note and had no idea what to expect after the Yankees awful performance in Game 6.

Yankees lost a nail biter. Mariano blew it. Yankees were winning 2-1 going into the bottom ninth. Womack hit a double down the left-field line to tie the game. After a hit batter, the bases were loaded with Luis Gonzalez coming to the plate. The Yankees brought the infield in to get the out at home plate. Then on the 0-1 pitch Gonzalez fisted a blooper over Jeter's head, scoring the game-winning run. Diamondbacks win World Series.

For the first time in my life, my heart was broken and my Dad's heart too. After the country went through 9/11 and my Dad lost NYPD brothers in Ground Zero, I thought that the World Series Banner should have been raised in New York. After two miracle comebacks in Game 4 and 5 I thought it would be so. My hero, Derek Jeter, would never let the Yankees lose or so I thought. But somehow they did lose; I almost hated going to school that day as much as I hated Luis Gonzalez.

Until this day I cannot watch the final hit, hear the name "Luis Gonzalez" or even have the 2001 World Series mentioned without my insides turning. However, I also cannot think of a time that the country rallied together under one purpose. When President Bush threw out that first pitch in Yankee stadium with the "FDNY" logo on his back, Americans felt that President Bush was our leader, even those who did not vote for them. For a short glimpse, the country was prepared to face any adversity because we were united under one mission. And it was in the house that Derek Jeter built that helped the country see the light.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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