The air was thick with anticipation on a Saturday evening in the Bronx. All New Yorkers were holding their breath as the Yanks had somehow managed to battle back and win three straight games against the defending-champion Atlanta Braves. It was October 26, 1996, and the Yankees were at the precipice of baseball immortality. It was the beginning of the Great Yankee Dynasty of the late 1990’s. (Can’t you just hear John Sterling’s voice saying this, starting off a “Yankees Classic” replay?)
“I waited almost 20 years to see them win it all again, doggone it,” says my dad, “Web”, reflecting on the series.
Those Georgia Peaches had a stacked starting pitching staff, equipped with: Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, and John Smoltz. After being up in the fall classic 2-0 and being heavily favored, the Yanks battled back taking Games 3-5 forcing a 6th. Now-Yankee outfielder, Andruw Jones (the Bryce Harper of 1996) was the fresh rookie of the Braves and the youngest player (age 19) ever to hit a home run in the World Series.
But New Yorkhad an amazing mix of veterans and rookies that was hard to deny: Bernie Williams, Paul O’Neill, (my man) Wade Boggs, Cecil Fielder, Tim Raines, and Jim Leyritz (had 3-run game-tying homer in 8th inning of Game 4), rookies: Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera, newbie Andy Pettitte, today-skipper Joe Girardi, and a very solid bullpen.
♫ We got byyyyyyyy with a little helppp from our friend- Jeffrey Maier ♫ with his interference in Game 1 of the ’96 ALCS vs. Baltimore and by the power of the baseball gods, the Yanks had worked their way to a sixth game of the World Series. Despite, being outscored 26-18 by the Braves and all the media’s scrutiny, they had actually done it. MVP John Wetteland produced in some difficult situations, performed his “saving grace” and collected four seamless saves on the post season.
It was the memorable pop out to 3B Charlie Hayes by Brave Mark Lemke. It was the first time since ’78 that they won it all, which to current Yankees fans seems like an eternity to not have a trophy in our hands. It was the first of four rings they would win over the next five years and the start of something new. That night, a NY policeman was riding his horse around the warning track “securing” the new champions when Wade Boggs jumps on back and took a nice, little victory lap around the stadium. That and the bench-clearing dog pile of Bronx Bombers around the pitching mound were the sigh-of-relief and excitement that Yankee Nation had been waiting for.
“Remember Sue, Boggs’ played all those years for the damn Red Sox and he had to come to the Yankees to win his one and only World Series,” continues Dad.
I’m debuting a first-hand account of this epic night. Web had ventured down to Game 6 with my Uncle Mike (who is probably reading this right now), Uncle Lou, and friend Dickie, with his video camera in hand (or on shoulder because back then it was one of those massive, black video cameras that actually held the VHS cassette tapes in them) and captured all the magic and excitement on tape from the stadium’s upper deck. There is no other live video from a fan’s perspective on YouTube that I could find, besides this one.
Enjoy reliving the moment as if you were at the stadium to witness it yourself-