Behind The ScenesMLB

Former participants in Red Sox/Yankees rivalry revel in Sunday Night Baseball’s matchup

(L-R) Boston's Jonny Gomes tried to avoid the tag of New York's Francisco Cervelli in a game earlier this season. (Allen Kee / ESPN Images)
Boston’s Jonny Gomes slides past New York’s Francisco Cervelli. (Allen Kee/ESPN Images)
Nomar Garciaparra
ESPN’s analyst Nomar Garciaparra spent a near-decade with the Red Sox. (Scott Clarke/ESPN Images)

This weekend, the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox renew their historic rivalry on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball (8 p.m. ET). The Red Sox enter with a two-game lead on the rival Yankees in the tight AL East. Of course, any discussion about Boston’s storied rivalry with New York would be incomplete without mentioning ESPN MLB analyst Aaron Boone and his unforgettable home run in Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS. Boone, who was traded to the Yankees in 2003, spent just a half season with the Yankees but made a lasting impact on the rivalry.

ESPN MLB analyst Nomar Garciaparra made his debut with the Red Sox in 1996 and played a central role in the rivalry during a near-decade with the club through 2004. Additionally, MLB analyst Alex Cora spent four seasons with the Red Sox and won a championship with the franchise in 2007. This week, Boone, Garciaparra, Cora and other ESPN MLB commentators shared some of their favorite memories of the rivalry.

“Rivalries are great,” said Garciaparra, who will appear on Friday and Saturday’s Baseball Tonight. “You can’t create a rivalry. Rivalries take time and come with two quality teams going at it. I think the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry is still strong. There’s no question. You still see it everywhere you go around Boston and New York. You can still feel that. When they play each other, it’s always there. The fans and the media hang on every single pitch.”

Boone recalled the very first time he wore pinstripes at Fenway Park.

“When I first got traded at the trade deadline in 2003, I remember Tim Naehring, who was in our front office with the [Cincinnati] Reds, he was sending me off and saying good luck. He was a good player with the Red Sox back in the day. He said, ‘You have no idea what you are in for,’” Boone said. “I thought as a fan of baseball and as a player who paid close attention to the game, that I knew what I was getting into. I realize I was in the National League, but I figured — ‘I know, Yankees, Red Sox. It is a big deal.’

“The first time I went to Boston, it was a regular season game in August and I realized Tim was right,” he said. “I had no idea what I was in for. You could feel the tension. You could feel the importance of every single pitch.”

One of Cora’s favorite memories in a Red Sox uniform came on April 22, 2007 on Sunday Night Baseball (available across multiple ESPN platforms including ESPN Radio, ESPN Deportes, ESPN Deportes Radio, WatchESPN and ESPN International). During the bottom of the third inning, the Red Sox hit four back-to-back home runs against the Yankees [Manny Ramirez, J.D. Drew, Mike Lowell and Jason Varitek].

“That particular one was really special,” said Cora. “I used to joke that when the [Red Sox and Yankees] play, baseball just stops. Nobody else plays.”

It will seem that way again this Sunday night.

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