The Red Sox line-up starts with Rickey Henderson. A first ballot Hall-of-Famer in his legendary leadoff position. That’s a great start. He’s followed by Johnny Damon, Nomar Garciaparra, and Manny Ramirez. So, the first four batters include a future Hall-of-Famer, a two-time batting champ, and a future 500-HR Hall-of-Famer. Can you ask for anything more? How about the starting pitcher? Pedro Martinez. Maybe the best there ever was. So, in ten years or so, we can look back at this card and talk about the Red Sox having three Hall-of-Famers in the starting line-up. It doesn’t show, but the Yankees started Derek Jeter and had Mariano Rivera pitch relief. So, even though neither of them should get in, they both will too. That will bring the total to five members of the Hall appearing in this game. Amazing!
What about the game itself? The Red Sox had two big innings, the fourth and eighth. Look at Henderson’s square leading off the fourth. He drew a walk, stole a base, and scored a run. If I’m not mistaken, he’s the all-time major league leader in all three of those stats. (Bonds may have passed him…but he at least led at one point) That’s pretty cool to see one of each of those from Rickey. The other big inning was the eighth. That’s when the Sox took the lead for good. Damon doubled to knock out the starter (David Wells). The new pitcher (Ramiro Mendoza) plunked the first guy he saw. I always love it when that happens. I can just see the manager seething in the dugout. “I bring this guy in, and he hits him? Are you freaking kidding me?” Mendoza doesn’t get Manny either and gets a quick hook. At this point they call for Rivera. I remember this part specifically. It was at this point that several Yankees fans around me made it a point to leave. They loudly declared that the game was now officially over, the Yankees had won, so they might as well go to a bar. But, as you can see, the game wasn’t over. Clark drives in a run with a grounder. Shea Hillenbrand amazingly follows with a go-ahead home run. The great Rivera blows yet another save. As it turns out, those Yankees fans made the right call. They got out while they were ahead, and could still be cocky about it. (As a side note, Rivera faced Hillenbrand again the following day. The youngster took a fastball high and tight from Rivera.)
So, there you have it. A game full of legends. Henderson had the trifecta in the fourth. Manny drove in two runs. Pedro struggled a bit, but still had seven strikeouts in just over 5 innings. A baseball bucket list got quite a few checkmarks in that game.
And the scorecard shows how it happened.