(Syndicated from The Yankee Analysts)
A few guys that have worn the #25 for the Yankees have had special moments during their time in Pinstripes.
For instance, the man who currently dons that uniform number for the Yankees, Mark Teixeira, had his lone special playoff moment, so far, in October 2009 when he hit a walk-off home run in the bottom of the 11th inning to seal a 4-3 victory over the Minnesota Twins.
In order to even get to that moment, Teixeira was instrumental in guaranteeing the Yankees a chance of even making it to extra innings when he opened the bottom of the ninth with a single. The Yankees found themselves down 3-1 and the Twins were looking to tie the series 1-1.
After Teixeira’s single, Alex Rodriguez stepped in and took the fifth pitch he saw out to the Yankee bullpen to tie the game.
The teams held each other scoreless until Teixeira led off the 11th inning with a line drive home run to left that bounced off the top of the wall and into the seats. It gave the Yankees a 2-0 lead in a series they would go on to sweep in three games.
Next up, we have the man who wore the number before Teixiera, Jason Giambi, who had his special moment within the first two months of joining the team.
It was a rainy Friday night in May in the Bronx and the Yankees found themselves down three runs in the bottom of the 13th inning against the Twins. The game was tied 9-9 going into the top of the inning when Sterling Hitchcock gave up three runs to give Minnesota a 12-9 lead.
The Yankees came up in the bottom of the 13th against Mike Trombley and twelve pitches later was walking off the field a loser.
Shane Spencer singled to lead off the inning, Alfonso Soriano flied out, Derek Jeter hit a single and Bernie Williams walked to load the bases. Giambi stepped in and took the first pitch he saw into the right field bleachers for a walk-off grand slam. The Yankees won 13-12.
Girardi’s moment is one that is always referenced when talking about the late 90′s Yankee dynasty. At the time it happened it just seemed like an ordinary triple but because it put the Yankees on the board first and they were able to hold on to a 3-2 victory to secure a win in the decisive Game Six of the 1996 World Series, it became the stuff of legends.
It is shown over and over and over again when those years are referenced along with Charlie Hayes catching the pop up in foul territory to end the game and the series.
And finally, we have Jim Abbott, who wore #25 in 1993 and 1994.
There are a few reasons why Abbott’s moment was special. One, he was born without a right hand and was able to make it to the Major Leagues and pitch. Two, he made history.
On September 4, 1993, I was in my den, watching the Yankee game with my father. It was a Saturday afternoon for me. I was newly 19-years-old and recovering from being out late with my friends the night before. In fact, I watched the game in my pijamas.
And why is this game so special? It’s because Abbott, the pitcher born without a right hand, pitched a no-hitter against the Cleveland Indians.
It wasn’t an overpowering performance by any means. Abbott walked five batters and only struck out three but he able to do something that hadn’t been done by a Yankee pitcher in 10 years. Dave Righetti had pitched the last Yankee no-hitter on July 4, 1983.
I remember the last out of the game, Carlos Baerga hit a grounder to short, Randy Velarde scooped it, throw the ball to Don Mattingly who pumped his fists in triumph when the ump signaled the last out. I also remember the look of relief and joy on Abbott’s face when realizing just what had happened.
Moments like these are what makes being a baseball fan so special. You never know what can happen.