The 2003 World Series marked the 100th anniversary of the first modern World Series. It featured the New York Yankees in their sixth Series appearance in eight years. Opposing them were the wild card Florida Marlins, appearing in their second World Series in their 11-year franchise history. The Marlins were the underdogs, and they capped a remarkable season turnaround by defeating the Yankees four games to two. The series was, however, somewhat overshadowed by the League Championship Series that year, when the Chicago Cubs and Boston Red Sox, both widely believed to be cursed, both went down to dramatic defeats. (see Steve Bartman and Curse of the Bambino, respectively)
The Marlins started the season 19-29 when they fired manager Jeff Torborg and hired 72-year old Jack McKeon, who had been retired from baseball for over two years. They went 75-49, the best record in the major leagues, under McKeon to win the wild card. They lost the first game of the NLDS to the San Francisco Giants, but came back to win the final three. After going down three games to one to the Cubs in the NLCS, they rallied to win the final three games. In the World Series, the Marlins put up their young roster with a $54 million payroll up against the storied Yankees and their $164 million payroll.
Series MVP: Josh Beckett (Florida)
Saturday, October 18, 2003 at Yankee Stadium
A trio of Marlins pitchers managed to keep the Yankees in check. Brad Penny, Dontrelle Willis, and Ugueth Urbina held New York to two runs. Juan Pierre scored Florida's first run and drove in the other two. The Yankees scored their runs on a single by Derek Jeter and a solo home run by Bernie Williams, the 18th postseason home run of his career, tying a mark shared by Reggie Jackson and Mickey Mantle.
Urbina ran into immediate trouble in the ninth, walking Jason Giambi to lead off the inning and, one out later, walking pinch-hitter Rubén Sierra to put pinch-runner David Dellucci in scoring position. However, Alfonso Soriano was called out looking on a 3-2 pitch and Nick Johnson flied out to center to end the game.
|W: Brad Penny (1-0) L: David Wells (0-1) S: Ugueth Urbina (1)|
|HR: NYY – Bernie Williams (1)|
Sunday, October 19, 2003 at Yankee Stadium
The Yankees bounced back behind the arm of Andy Pettitte who allowed only six hits and one walk in 8 2/3 innings. He allowed only one unearned run on a single by Derrek Lee. The Yankees' Hideki Matsui hit a three-run home run in the first inning on a 3-0 pitch, becoming the first Japanese player to hit a home run in a World Series. Alfonso Soriano hit a two-run shot off reliever Rick Helling in the fourth. Florida's starter Mark Redman lasted only two and a third innings while allowing four runs.
|W: Andy Pettitte (1-0) L: Mark Redman (0-1)|
|HR: NYY – Hideki Matsui (1), Alfonso Soriano (1)|
Tuesday, October 21, 2003 at Pro Player Stadium
Game 3 was a close pitcher's duel for the first seven innings. Florida starter Josh Beckett held the Yankees to one run through seven innings, the lone run coming on a bases loaded walk after two consecutive borderline pitches that were called balls. The Marlins struck early off New York starter Mike Mussina with Miguel Cabrera singling in Juan Pierre in the bottom of the first off. Mussina settled down and did not allow another run to the Marlins in seven strong innings. Beckett pitched strong into the eighth until he started to tire. He left with one out in the eighth having recorded 10 strikeouts for the night.
Reliever Dontrelle Willis entered the 1-1 game and got one out, but gave up an opposite-field single to Hideki Matsui to give the Yankees their first lead of the night. Chad Fox relieved Willis and struck out Rubén Sierra to end the inning. The Yankees offense would return in the ninth. Aaron Boone led off the inning with a home run to left, and after walking Alfonso Soriano and hitting Derek Jeter, Bernie Williams hit a three-run shot to center to give the Yankees a 6-1 lead. Williams' home run was the his 19th in the postseason, a new Major League record. His 65 RBIs were also the most in postseason history. Yankee closer Mariano Rivera pitched the final two innings for his record 30th career postseason save. Mussina received his first postseason win; he was 0-3 in the postseason entering the game.
The game was interrupted in the seventh by a rain delay lasting 39 minutes. It was the first weather-related delay of a World Series game since game 3 of the 1993 World Series.
|W: Mike Mussina (1-0) L: Josh Beckett (0-1) S: Mariano Rivera (1)|
|HR: NYY – Aaron Boone (1), Bernie Williams (2)|
Wednesday, October 22, 2003 at Pro Player Stadium
The Marlins jumped out to an early lead against Yankees starter Roger Clemens. Miguel Cabrera hit a two-run homer in the first and Derrek Lee hit an RBI single. Clemens settled down and held the Marlins scoreless in the next six innings. When Clemens struck out Luis Castillo to end the seventh, it was then thought to have marked the end of his Major League career. With flashbulbs lighting up the stadium, the crowd gave him a standing ovation; the Marlins even paused to applaud in recognition of Clemens' hall-of-fame career. (As it turned out, Clemens would put off his retirement to sign with the Houston Astros for 2004.) Meanwhile, the Yankees scored their first run on a sacrifice fly by Aaron Boone in the second inning. Marlins starter Carl Pavano held the Yankees to that lone run through eight strong innings.
Clemens was set to get the loss until the Yankees rallied in the ninth against Ugueth Urbina. Bernie Williams singled with one out, Hideki Matsui walked and Jorge Posada grounded into a force play. Pinch-hitter Rubén Sierra fouled off two full-count pitches before tripling into the right-field corner to tie the ball game. The game headed to extra innings. The Yankees threatened to score in the top of the 11th when they loaded the bases with one out off Chad Fox. Braden Looper relieved Fox and struck out Boone, and replacement catcher John Flaherty popped out to third. The Marlins won the game in dramatic fashion in the bottom of the 12th when Alex González led off the inning with a home run off Jeff Weaver that just cleared the fence in left to help the Marlins win 4-3.
|W: Braden Looper (1-0) L: Jeff Weaver (0-1)|
|HR: FLA – Miguel Cabrera (1), Alex Gonzalez (1)|
Thursday, October 23, 2003 at Pro Player Stadium
Game 5 featured a rematch of Game 1's starters, Florida's Brad Penny versus New York's David Wells. Before a sellout crowd of 65,975, the Yankees did not appear very sharp, botching a rundown play in the fifth inning that led to two Marlin runs. Slumping Alfonso Soriano was benched and first baseman Jason Giambi nursed a leg injury. Wells left the game after pitching just one inning due to back spasms. His replacement, José Contreras pitched three shaking innings, allowing 3 walks and 4 runs. The Yankees drew first blood with a sacrifice fly from Bernie Williams in the first. In the second, the Marlins scored on an RBI double by Alex González and Brad Penny helped his own cause by singling in two more runs. They scored again on a Juan Pierre double in the 4th and a two-run single by Derrek Lee in the 5th, to give the Marlins a 6-1 lead.
The Yankees began clawing away at that lead with a Derek Jeter RBI-single in the 7th. Dontrelle Willis relieved Penny by pitching a scoreless 8th. In the 9th, Jason Giambi hit a pinch-hit home run to right field off reliever Braden Looper. That made it 6-3 Marlins. After a Jeter single, Enrique Wilson double him home to cut the Marlins' lead to 6-4. Ugueth Urbina relieved Looper and retired Bernie Williams on a fly ball near the outfield wall which was caught by Juan Encarnacion just inches away from a home run and Hideki Matsui on a ground ball to first base which landed in Derrek Lee's glove to preserve the Marlins win.
|W: Brad Penny (2-0) L: José Contreras (0-1)|
|HR: NYY – Jason Giambi (1)|
Saturday, October 25, 2003 at Yankee Stadium
As the series headed back to New York, Marlins manager Jack McKeon decided to start 23-year-old Josh Beckett on three days' rest. Beckett made the move seem brilliant—he pitched a complete game shutout, allowing just five hits, to give Florida its second championship in 11 seasons. A combination of pitches kept the Yankees hitters off balance the entire game, never allowing a runner past second base. He struck out nine and featured a 97 mile-per-hour fastball. The final out came on a weak ground ball from Jorge Posada; Beckett fielded the ball himself and tagged Posada on the way to first to clinch the title for Florida. Beckett was named the series MVP.
The Marlins scored their first run in the fifth when Luis Castillo hit an RBI single with Alex González making a great slide to avoid Posada's tag at the plate. Juan Encarnacion added Florida's second run with a sacrifice fly in the sixth. Jeff Conine then slid across the plate as that occurred.
This was the 100th World Series game ever played at Yankee Stadium. The Marlins became the first opposing team to win a Series championship on the field at Yankee Stadium since 1981, when the Los Angeles Dodgers did it.
|W: Josh Beckett (1-1) L: Andy Pettitte (1-1)|
- The Marlins became the first National League team since the 1979 Pittsburgh Pirates to win the World Series without having home field advantage. They were just the third team overall to do it since 1984, following the 1992 Toronto Blue Jays and the 1999 New York Yankees.
- Josh Beckett became the first pitcher to pitch a complete game shutout in the final game of the World Series since Jack Morris of the Minnesota Twins in 1991.
- Jack McKeon becomes the oldest manager to ever win a World Series.
- The Marlins become 6-0 in postseason series in only 11 years of existence.
- This championship gives the Marlins more World titles (2) than division titles (0). The Atlanta Braves had won the NL East every year since 1995, a strike ended the 1994 season without division winners, and the Philadelphia Phillies won the Marlins' division in 1993.
- For the first time since the LCS became a best-of-7 series, both the NLCS and ALCS go the full 7 games in the same postseason, with the Marlins defeating the Chicago Cubs and the Yankees defeating the Boston Red Sox.
- The Yankees had been awarded home-field advantage for this World Series, because the AL won the 2003 All-Star game. MLB had alternated home-field advantage for the World Series between the two leagues prior to this, and the NL would have been due for home-field in 2003 before the change.
|Major League Baseball World Series|