Hard to believe it was 10 years ago.
One year before the infamous “Curse of the Bambino” was broken, Boston Red Sox fans everywhere stood wide-eyed and anxious as Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS against the New York Yankees wound its way into the bottom of the 11th inning.
That’s when Aaron Boone extended the “curse” another season with a lead-off, first-pitch moonshot off knuckleballer Tim Wakefield. Boone’s homer not only propelled the Yankees to the World Series, but his heroics also perpetuated the idea that the Red Sox would never win another World Series (especially following the events of the Grady Little/Pedro Martinez controversy from earlier in the game).
Ten years to the day, Boone, now a Baseball Tonight and Monday Night Baseball analyst for ESPN, shared his memories of that extraordinary moment with Front Row.
“It never ceases to amaze me how many people on both sides of the ledger have an intimate story about that moment,” said Boone. “It’s one of those moments where people can recall exactly where they were, what they were doing and what they were thinking. I guess it’s just made me realize how big of a rivalry the Red Sox/Yankees is. It was at one of the heights of the rivalry.”
Several of Boone’s ESPN colleagues have a personal connection to the Yankees/Red Sox rivalry and were involved, in some capacity, that fateful day of Oct. 16, 2003.
“[Boston native] Sean McDonough calls it ‘that wind-blown pop-out to left field,’” Boone said.
Boone’s fellow Baseball Tonight analyst Nomar Garciaparra – who was playing for the Red Sox that night – tries to push the memory out of his head.
“I try to forget about it, so thanks for reminding me,” Garciaparra joked. “I think it was a game me and Boonie were doing together [an ESPN MLB telecast] where they showed the clip. I told him he had a new middle name and it was probably different than the one he was thinking of.” (He’s referring to Red Sox fans dubbing him Aaron “Bleepin’” Boone – a moniker given by Red Sox writers and fans in homage to Bucky “Bleepin’” Dent – another villainous figure in Curse of the Bambino folklore).
Boone also describes a recent game that had the “wow” moment of his Game 7 heroics.
“Game Four of the Tigers/A’s [ALDS] this year really got me going,” he said. “It was special. When [Detroit Tigers pitcher Max] Scherzer came on and got out of that bases loaded jam, the emotion, the crowd, the time of day – it was one of those scenes where I’m sitting back a little bit and thinking ‘this is awesome’. It was the ultimate example of what you play for and what you live for – to be in this type of game.”