‘Hart of the Order’
By Sean Hartnett
» More Columns
When I look back at Jorge Posada’s 17-year Yankee career, one moment sticks out more prominently than any other. It’s the image of Posada standing at second base roaring like a lion as Yankee Stadium shook.
October 16th, 2003 was one of the most famous nights at the Old Yankee Stadium. Jason Giambi launched two solo home runs but Pedro Martinez appeared to be in complete control going into the 8th inning of Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS. Up to that point, Pedro held the Yankees to just those two runs and struck out eight batters.
The scoreboard read 5-2 and it looked like the Red Sox were on their way to reaching their first World Series since 1986 but these were the ‘Never Say Die Yankees.’ Even a three-run deficit against the game’s most dominant starter with six outs remaining wasn’t a task too large.
Actually, it was five outs after Nick Johnson began the inning by popping out to Nomar Garciaparra. Derek Jeter started the comeback in trademark fashion by lacing a double to right field. Next batter, Bernie Williams hit a line-drive single and drove Jeter home. The wheels began to fall off for Martinez as Hideki Matsui’s ground-rule double advanced Williams to third. That old Yankee magic was still alive.
Posada stepped up to the plate and there couldn’t have been a more appropriate batter to end Pedro’s misery. Martinez was public enemy number one in the Bronx and everyone inside Yankee Stadium was eagerly anticipating Pedro being knocked out of the game.
Martinez had set the rivalry alight by plunking Karim Garcia in Game 3 which emptied the dugouts at Fenway Park. Posada pointed and shouted at Pedro who gestured back to Posada as if to tell him, ‘You better watch your head.’ He would later explain that he was telling Posada ‘to think’ but at that moment it appeared to be a move threatening gesture.
Pedro made his share of enemies in pinstripes throughout the series. He directed a number of insulting comments through the press including his famous Garcia quote.
He told Peter Gammons, “Karim García, who’s Karim García? I have no respect for that guy. I don’t have anything to prove to that guy. He needs to be forcing himself to come up to where I am, to my level. Who are you Karim García to try to test Pedro Martinez, a proven player for ten years? That’s what I don’t understand. Why would I hit Karim García?”
It wasn’t only Martinez’s words that enraged the Yankees. Pedro tossed a charging 72-year old Don Zimmer to ground and Posada was standing at the top of the list of Yankees out for vengeance.
When Posada hit the tying two-run double in Game 7, all the built-up emotion came pouring out of his body when he reached second base. It had given his fans and teammates belief that the ‘Curse of the Bambino’ was still alive. Eventually, Aaron Boone would be the celebrated hero of the 2003 ALCS with his 11th inning walk-off, series-ending solo home run.
If not for Posada’s tying-double, Boone’s moment of glory wouldn’t have been possible. The Red Sox went on to break their 86-year drought a year later but in the Fall of 2003, Yankees and Red Sox fans still believed in the ghosts of Yankee Stadium.
It wasn’t the ghost of Ruth or the hallowed field where countless Yankee moments happened before that spurred the Bombers onto victory that night.
Posada was the one who lifted his teammates through his desire and made everyone inside the old building believe that the Yankees couldn’t be defeated.
How will you remember Posada? Share your opinions below and send your tweets to @HartyLFC.