I was in attendance at the Indians-Yankees game on July 17, 2003 with the rest of my family and two close friends to the family. It was by far the most memorable game and fun experience I had at the old Yankee Stadium.
From left to right: Betsey, Louise, me, Scott and Jenny
The annual Neslin-Taylor family Yankees game is always one of the most exciting times of the summer — yes, just one game a year for this blogger. Both Alva (left) and Gail (right) Taylor work at the Tuck School at Dartmouth with my dad. Alva is a Dodgers fan, but he was rooting for the Yanks in this one (probably because the Dodgers were 7.5 games out of first at the time). Gail brought her ‘A’ game and was the most decked out Yankee fan of the whole crew.
I was only 13 years old at the time, but the game is remarkably easy to recall because of how the scoring played out. I will never forget what I told Louise in the sixth inning when Alfonso Soriano walked up to the plate.
“Soriano is gonna hit a homer!” I said.
And that’s what he did. As soon as I heard the crack of the bat, I jumped out of my seat. Before I knew it, everyone around me was jumping up and down and I couldn’t hear what my sister said back to me. I might have been able to call the shot because I was wearing my Soriano T-shirt — or because I probably said everyone was going to hit a homer before each at bat. The two-run shot to left field tied the game at two.
The Indians made it 4-2 somehow, but my real hero erased the deficit with one swing of the bat. Derek Jeter hit another two-run homer to tie the game in the eighth inning. This one was hit even harder than Soriano’s, and closer to center field too.
I remember seeing Mariano Rivera jogging out of the bullpen in left to pitch the ninth. He had no difficulties getting through the inning, and it was quickly the Yankees turn to bat.
Hideki Matsui was the first batter up, and I remember turning to Louise and telling her something.
“Matsui’s gonna hit a homer!” I said.
Sure enough, that’s what happened. It caught everyone by surprise. He was the first batter of the inning, and he was a rookie that hadn’t shown much power so far. But he got a hold of the second pitch he saw from David Riske, and deposited it in the right field stands. The crowd went crazy and everyone in our crew shouted, “Yankees win, Yankees win!”
What a game. Both of my favorite Yankees hit game-tying two-run homers, and then I witnessed my one and only walk-off homer. Yes, I was really at this game. You want proof?
Here’s me, wearing my Yomiuri Giants hat and brand new $20 sunglasses, with the scoreboard flashing “GONEZILLA” behind me. I ended up leaving my sunglasses at the stadium, and I lost the Giants cap at a summer camp later that summer. It was tragic; the Japanese hat was really cool.
The last bit of my story doesn’t compare to the excitement that I felt at the game, but it certainly made my day. As a holiday gift, my dad bought me a small box of all-Yankees cards. Some of these cards were these Upper Deck Matsui 2004 Rookie Chronicles — a series that highlights each of Matsui’s rookie accomplishments. One of these accomplishments was a game that he hit a walk-off homer. It was on July 17.