As the New York Yankees prepare for their last-ever series at Yankee Stadium – it should've been next weekend against the Boston Red Sox, IMHO – the man formerly behind the Armchair Weekend in Review (RIP, 2006-2008) comes out of semi-retirement to pay homage to the Baseball Cathedral at East 161st Street and River Avenue in the Bronx, New York City...
10. The Mick's power shot (May 22, 1963)
Mickey Mantle said it was the hardest shot he ever hit, and he wasn't kidding. This gargantuan blast traveled an astounding 734 feet (224 meters) before hitting the Stadium's famed façade. Mantle came awfully close to clearing the ballpark on a pitch by Kansas City Athletics pitcher Bill Fischer would win the game for the Yankees in the 11th inning, 8-7.
10.5. Someone did, though
Josh Hamilton put on quite a display in the 2008 Home Run Derby on July 15 of that year, where a few taters looked as though they cleared the Stadium...
9. Thurman Munson funeral game (August 6, 1979)
It had been a trying day for the Yankees, which began with the burial of their captain and teammate, who was killed in a plane crash a few days earlier in Ohio. After their final goodbyes were said, the emotionally drained Bombers returned to the Bronx with little time to get their heads right for that night's game against the Orioles. With the Yanks behind 4-3, Bobby Murcer (himself deceased as of late) ripped a base hit to left field, scoring Bucky Dent and Willie Randolph to win the game, 5-4.
8. Sox follies
The years of 2003 and 2004 marked what could arguably be the abosulte peak of the Yanks-Sox rivalry; the former year saw a contentious ALCS go down to seven games, the last of which saw the Sox within five outs of their first trip to the World Series since 1986 before the rally began. Bernie Williams plated Derek Jeter to narrow the deficit to 5-3, followed by Jorge Posada's game-tying double. Then came the 11th inning, where Aaron Boone etched his name into the rivalry's history with a homer on the first pitch from Tim Wakefield (on he bump since the 10th) to send the Yanks to their 39th pennant.
But, as the old adage goes, turnabout is fair play, and the following year saw the Red Sox complete the impossible: a series win from 3-0 down to make up for 2003.
7. Don Larsen's perfect game (October 8, 1956)
Don Larsen was an unheralded member of the Yankees team during the big dynasty years of the 1950s, tooling in the shadow of such greats as Mantle, Roger Maris, Whitey Ford, and Yogi Berra, to name but four. However, his outing in Game 5 of the World Series elevated his name into the history books for all time. On the above date, Larsen threw the first (and only) perfect game in postseason history when he retired all 27 Brooklyn Dodgers, 2-0, en route to the Yanks' 17th World Championship.
7.5. A few other gems
As a matter of fact, Larsen, as well as battery-mate Berra, were in attendance when David Cone threw an el perfecto on July 18, 1999. Other no-nos tossed at the Stadium include Dave Righetti (July 4, 1983 vs. the Red Sox); Dwight Gooden (May 14, 1996 vs. the Seattle Mariners), and David Wells (a perfect game on May 17, 1998 vs. the Minnesota Twins). On June 11, 2003, six Houston Astros pitchers combined for a 2-0 no-hitter against the Yankees; the hurlers involved were Roy Oswalt, Paul Munro, Kirk Saarloos, Brad Lidge, Octavio Dotel, and Billy Wagner.
6. Chris Chambliss sends Yanks back to the Series (October 14, 1976)
The period between 1965 and 1975 was one of the lowest in Yankee history, but it was with one swing of the bat that brought the Bombers back to terra familiara (I never took Latin in high school, so sue me if I got it wrong). Somewhat but not quite like with the abovementioned Boone, Chambliss was the leadoff hitter against the Kansas City Royals, taking a Mark Littell pitch into right-center field and over the short porch in right field to break a 6-6 tie.
5. Maris hits 61st HR (October 1, 1961)
1961 was a memorable season for Yankees fans of an earlier generation, as the Bombers recovered from a crushing Game 7 World Series loss the previous year to return to the Fall Classic. Along the way, Maris and Mantle thrilled fans with their pursuit of Babe Ruth's single-season home run record. When Mantle went down with a hip injury, Maris won the tater derby, scoring the only run in a 1-0 win over the Red Sox on his 61st homer of the year.
4. Reggie Jackson's three homers (October 18, 1977)
1977 saw a lot of noteworthy events in NYC; between the "Son of Sam" manhut, a citywide blackout and a contentious mayoral race, there was plenty to discuss. In the backdrop, the Yankees had their own soap opera going on en route to their world championship. Jackson, who had been the subject of manager Billy Martin's scorn during the season, became the hero in Game 6 of the World Series with three dingers to give the Yanks their first title since 1963.
3. Joe Louis KOs Max Schmeling (June 22, 1938)
Louis cemented his status as a national (read: US) sporting icon during the tense buildup to World War II with this legendary bout. Louis needed just over two minutes to dispose of Schemling in what was viewed as a big blow to Nazi Germany's Aryan values and domination.
3.5. New York comes together (2001)
A month and a half after the attacks that shook a nation to its roots, Yankee Stadium was the scene to a healing of sorts as the Yanks provided their fans with two great reasons to cheer during that year's World Series against the Arizona Diamondbacks: Derek Jeter becoming "Mr. November" in Game 4 as the clock hit midnight and the calendar turned to November and Scott Brosius' game-tying shot the following night.
2. "The Greatest Game Ever Played" (December 29, 1958)
Football (American, that is) had played second fiddle to baseball in terms of popularity since the NFL's inception in 1920. All that changed with the 1958 NFL Championship game, the first game ever to be televised nationwide. Whatever number of viewers were able to see this game saw a classic, wherein the Baltimore Colts took the New York Giants to sudden death overtime (another first) and win the game, 23-17, on a one-yard run by Colts running back Alan Ameche.
1. Lou Gehrig's farewell speech
No words necessary, just watch (or listen)...
High Honorable Mention
- The 2008 MLB All-Star Game
- Phil Rizzuto knocked over by a cow
- Joe DiMaggio memorial featuring Paul Simon singing "Mrs. Robinson" (April 25, 1999)
- Jason Giambi's walk-off grand slam in the rain (May 17, 2002)
- Roger Clemens' 300th win (June 13, 2003)
- Clemens returns to the Yankees (Suzyn Waldman: "Oh, my goodness gracious!") (May 6, 2007)