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Baseball's Greatest Series

Baseball's Greatest Series: Yankees, Mariners, and the 1995 Matchup That Changed History

Chris Donnelly
Copyright Date: 2010
Pages: 352
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  • Book Info
    Baseball's Greatest Series
    Book Description:

    Baseball's Greatest Seriesdetails what many believe to be the most exciting postseason series in baseball history: the 1995 Division Series between the New York Yankees and the Seattle Mariners.

    This division series was not simply about two teams playing five postseason games. It was about Ken Griffey Jr., Lou Piniella, Buck Showalter, Gene Michael, Jim Leyritz, Randy Johnson, Wade Boggs, Tony Fernandez, Pat Kelly, Dion James, Darryl Strawberryùand many others who changed the course of baseball history . . .A team playing to keep baseball alive in the Pacific NorthwestA manager who was literally managing for his jobA New York sports icon who for one week reminded everybody of the dominating player he had been a decade earlier

    Chris Donnelly's replay of this entire season reminds readers that it was a time when grown men cried their eyes out after defeat, and others, just a few hundred feet away, poured beer and champagne over one another while 57,000 people in Seattle's Kingdome celebrated. Five games they were. Five games that reminded people, after the devastating players' strike in 1994, how great a game baseball is because comebacks are always possible, no matter how great the obstacles may seem.

    From Don Mattingly's only postseason home run, which caused a near riot, to Edgar Martinez's legendary eleventh inning series-clinching double, Donnelly chronicles the earlier struggles of both teams during the 1980s, their mid-1990s resurgence, all five heart-stopping games of the series, and the dramatic and long-lasting effects of Seattle's victory. Simply stated,Baseball's Greatest Serieshits a home run.

    eISBN: 978-0-8135-4913-2
    Subjects: Sociology
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Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents (pp. vii-viii)
  3. PREFACE (pp. ix-x)
  4. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS (pp. xi-xiv)
  5. 1 Don-nie Base-ball (pp. 1-6)

    The crowd was still in a frenzy as Donald Arthur Mattingly strode to the plate moments after his teammate, Ruben Sierra, homered into the right-center-field bleachers. It was the second game of the 1995 Division Series between the Yankees and the Mariners, and it was now tied at 2. Sierra’s shot, a high drive off a breaking ball, had incited an already-overcharged crowd of 57,126 at Yankee Stadium.

    For any team—for its players, its owners, and, of course, its fans—postseason play is an especially exciting and urgent time of year. But for these two teams in this particular...

  6. 2 Winless in Seattle (pp. 7-33)

    In 1969, there was scant evidence of the skyscrapers that would dot the city streets of Seattle in the years to come. From Puget Sound, one could see the world-famous Space Needle hovering above the city’s northern side. To the southeast, with Mount Rainier towering behind it, lay Sick’s Stadium. At Sick’s, minor-league baseball had thrived in Seattle for decades. The Rainiers of the Pacific Coast League played there since 1938 under the management of such baseball superstars as Rogers Hornsby, the Hall of Fame second baseman, and Lefty O’Doul, who once collected 254 hits in a season for the...

  7. 3 Bronx Bummers (pp. 34-60)

    For the New York Yankees, fate had chosen a far different course than that of the Seattle Mariners. The Yankees had already won a record twenty world championships before Marty Pattin threw the first pitch for the Pilots in 1969.¹ The 1977 Mariners sported such forgetful names as Kevin Pasley, Bill Laxton, Joe Lis, and Tommy Smith. The Yankees’ roster throughout the years had included baseball legends like Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, and Mickey Mantle. While just reaching .500 was considered a laudable goal in the early days of Seattle baseball, anything less than a championship was deemed...

  8. 4 Strike (pp. 61-68)

    On August 12, 1994, the Major League Baseball players went on strike. It was the eighth time in twenty-three seasons that a work stoppage occurred, so the strike itself was not a rare occurrence.¹ Still, this one seemed more serious than the others. Years of pent-up frustration, resentment, and deep mistrust had built up between the owners and the Major League Baseball Players Association. Much of it stemmed from the period of 1985–1987, when owners colluded with each other not to sign free-agent players in an attempt to keep salaries down.² The owners were eventually caught and forced to...

  9. 5 Baseball Returns (pp. 69-90)

    For one beautiful April day in the Bronx, the hurt feelings and fallout from the strike all but disappeared. Coaches, managers, and players suited up and played ball. A crowd of 50,245 showed up for opening day between the Yankees and the Texas Rangers. Danny Tartabull and Bernie Williams homered, Jimmy Key pitched well, and John Wetteland got a save in his Yankee debut. In the stands, a fan held up a sign that read, “What Strike? Go Yanks!” The next day, 3,000 miles away, the Mariners returned to the Kingdome and shut out the Tigers 3–0. Judging from...

  10. 6 Game 1: The Bronx, Baseball, and Beer Bottles (pp. 91-119)

    The evening of October 2, 1995, was cool, comfortable, and pleasant in the South Bronx. It betrayed the electric buzz swirling around New York City that day. For the first time in fourteen years, the Yankees were playing in the postseason. The excitement had ripped through the tristate area like a tornado. As with most ballparks in the country, New Yorkers had not come back to Yankee Stadium once the strike ended. Even down the stretch, as the Yankees fought tooth and nail for the wild-card spot, games were played in front of a nearly empty stadium. The final home...

  11. 7 Game 2: A Classic in the Bronx (pp. 120-152)

    Andy Pettitte was not nervous. He should have been, but he wasn’t. The left-handed rookie pitcher had lost out on the number-five spot in the Yankees’ rotation in spring training. Now he was the starting pitcher for New York in Game 2 of the Division Series. Buck Showalter was asking Pettitte to get the Yankees a two-games-to-none lead before heading across the continent to the ever-imposing Kingdome. No problem, Pettitte thought to himself.¹

    The Yankees drafted Pettitte out of Texas in 1990. While coming up through the system, Pettitte struggled with weight problems that some believed was a result of...

  12. 8 Game 3: Playoff Baseball in Seattle (pp. 153-180)

    Two days later, people were still talking about Game 2 and wondering if there was any way the rest of the series could possibly live up to what had occurred in New York. The first two games had been a war on the field. Now the war spilled into the front offices. George Steinbrenner, already in trouble for his remarks about the umpiring in Games 1 and 2, now took shots at a different target: Mariners team CEO John Ellis. “I have trouble with Seattle owner John Ellis,” Steinbrenner told theNew York Daily Newsbefore Game 3. “He’s the...

  13. [Illustrations] (pp. None)
  14. 9 Game 4: Saint Edgar (pp. 181-211)

    Despite the euphoria in Seattle on the morning of October 7, the fact remained that the Mariners were on the brink of elimination heading into Game 4. The odds once again were stacked against them, at least on paper. Chris Bosio would take the mound on only three days’ rest. Bosio had pitched respectably in Game 1, but it did not change the fact that nearly every player in the Yankees’ lineup had better-than-average career numbers against him. Moreover, Lou Piniella admitted he could hope for Bosio to go no more than six innings.¹ Piniella was going to have to...

  15. 10 Game 5: Warriors, Heroes, and Heartbreak (pp. 212-250)

    On Sunday, October 8, 1995, the city of Seattle woke up in a frenzy. Edgar Martinez’s seven-RBI performance was the talk of the town, eclipsing even Seahawks football. He had nearly single-handedly propelled his team to victory in Game 4. Left for dead at 1:15 A.M. the previous Wednesday morning, the Mariners had tied the series in the most dramatic of ways. It was only fitting that after four games of high drama on the East and West coasts, it now came down to one final game. After weeks in which both teams could truly not afford to lose a...

  16. 11 Deconstructing the Yankees (pp. 251-264)

    Paul O’Neill stood dazed in right field. He’d been the only Yankee not involved when Edgar Martinez doubled, and he’d helplessly watched as the entire season collapsed before his eyes. His blank expression conveyed a feeling of incredulity. How could this have happened? Slowly he made his way back to the dugout, staring at the celebrating Mariners as he went. Eventually he sat down on a bench outside the dugout, his back slumped, looking straight at the ground as he rubbed his left hand through his hair. “Everything we’ve been working for since last March comes down to one play...

  17. 12 Safeco Is Born (pp. 265-276)

    It was pandemonium inside the Kingdome. The stands shook, the walls vibrated, and the press box swayed back and forth. “We won, and all hell broke loose,” said Lou Piniella.1 Beneath a pile of teammates at home plate lay Ken Griffey Jr., smiling from ear to ear. Many of his former teammates said they had never seen Griffey run faster than he did on that play. Other Mariners scattered across the field, some so excited they didn’t know where to go. Tim Belcher, who had been warming up in the bullpen, ran toward the infield still carrying his glove and...

  18. Epilogue (pp. 277-288)

    Buck Showalter found a job just four months after his “resignation.” The expansion Arizona Diamondbacks hired him as manager, even though they didn’t begin play until 1998. In 1999, they won the National League West. Showalter, however, endured heartache again when the Mets’ Todd Pratt homered in the tenth inning of Game 4 to end the Diamondbacks’ season. Showalter was fired a year later. The following season, the Diamondbacks won the World Series. Showalter managed the Texas Rangers from 2003 to 2006 and later worked for the Cleveland Indians and as an analyst for ESPN’sBaseball Tonight.

    Gene Michael remained...

  19. NOTES (pp. 289-318)
  20. INDEX (pp. 319-330)
  21. Back Matter (pp. 331-332)