From Beatles concerts to papal visits, New York's stadiums have been home to memorable moments beyond baseball.
My top New York stadium moments
This won't be your typical list. Only games I actually witnessed or covered qualify. They're listed in chronological order. — Pat Borzi
Oct. 21, 1976: Game 4 of the World Series, a win over Cincinnati, 7-2, on two Johnny Bench homers to complete a four-game sweep. I was one month into a part-time clerk job at Newsday on Long Island, and the sports editor, the late Dick Sandler, offered me an extra ticket to the game when I showed up for work that day at 5 p.m. Via train and subway, I made it back to the Bronx by first pitch. Newsday had great seats, behind the plate about 15 rows back, something that would never happen today. Little did I know, 20 years later, I'd be covering my first World Series in the same ballpark.
Aug. 4, 1985: Ex-Met Tom Seaver, then with the Chicago White Sox, pitched a complete game to beat the Yankees, 4-1, for his 300th career victory. That coincided with Phil Rizzuto Day, attended by a phalanx of Yankee greats, including The Mick — all of whom were upstaged by a cow that, in the pregame ceremony retiring Rizzuto's No.10, stepped on The Scooter's foot and knocked him on his keister. A great New York story that I covered for the Miami Herald, it remains one of my favorite days in the business.
May 14, 1996: Dwight Gooden no-hit a Seattle lineup that included Ken Griffey Jr., Edgar Martinez and a young Alex Rodriguez. This remains the only no-hitter I ever saw in person. I had the day off when David Wells threw his perfect game against the Twins in 1998 (though I hustled to the park in time to assist in the postgame coverage), and was on the Mets beat for David Cone's perfecto in 1999.
Oct. 26, 1996: The Yankees beat Atlanta, 3-2, in Game 6 to clinch their first World Series title in 18 years. I wrote the lead story for the Newark Star-Ledger. The two lasting images from that night: A tearful Joe Torre celebrated his first world championship days after his brother Frank received a life-saving heart transplant. And Wade Boggs, co-opting something he saw former Red Sox teammate Roger Clemens pull in Boston 10 years earlier, commandeered a police horse and rode around the stadium.
May 17, 2002: Jason Giambi's 14th-inning walk-off grand slam in the rain, his first big hit as a Yankee, beat the Twins, 13-12. The Twins had scored three times in the top of the inning before Mike Trombley served the slam to Giambi, who until then had done little to justify the $120 million free-agent contract he signed in the off-season. This game had a little of everything, including six Yankee home runs (tying a Stadium record), and a great relay from Torii Hunter to Denny Hocking to A.J. Pierzynski to nail Giambi at the plate in the 13th.
April 9, 1976: The first Mets game I ever attended without my father. Along with some freshman dorm buddies from Fordham University, we watched Tom Seaver outpitch Steve Rogers to beat Montreal, 3-2, on Opening Day. The Mets stunk then, and it was cold, so we had no problem buying walk-up tickets; the crowd of 15,963 was less than one-third of Shea's capacity.
June 9, 1999: After being ejected from a game against Toronto, Mets Manager Bobby Valentine returned to the dugout in a Groucho Marx-like disguise, only to be caught by television cameras. But the best part of this came the next day, when Valentine led a bunch of writers into the dugout to show how he technically had not been in the dugout, an unforgettable moment of New York theater in which the charismatic Valentine channeled Clarence Darrow and Captain Queeg at the same time. The National League didn't buy it, either; he drew a $5,000 fine and a two-day suspension.
Oct. 17, 1999: With the Mets facing elimination in the National League Championship Series, Robin Ventura's "grand-slam single" in the 15th inning beat the Braves, 4-3, to force a sixth game. Todd Pratt, the runner at first, was the only person in the ballpark who didn't realize Ventura's drive had cleared the fence. So Pratt, after touching second, ran to hug a startled Ventura. Because Ventura technically passed Pratt on the base paths, he was only credited with a single and one RBI.
Oct. 24-26, 2000: Games 3, 4 and 5 of the World Series between the Yankees and Mets, the only time these teams faced each other in the Fall Classic. All three games were decided by one or two runs, and the Yankees' Luis Sojo won the clinching Game 5 with a two-run, seeing-eye single through the middle in the top of the ninth. Only a Cubs-White Sox matchup this fall could match the energy and fervor around New York at that time.
June 15, 2002: Roger Clemens faced the Mets for the first time since throwing a broken bat near Mike Piazza in the World Series two years before — noteworthy since, in the National League park, Clemens had to bat. Bloodthirsty Met fans demanded retribution, and an overflow press box crowd awaited the carnage. Met pitcher Shawn Estes threw behind Clemens' legs in third, earning a $750 fine, but homered off him two innings later in an 8-0 rout.
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