Sun, Oct 19, 2003 - Page 23 News List

The Babe gets a toast from grateful Yankees


Marlins pitcher Dontrelle Willis looks at the plaques in Monument Park on Friday at Yankee Stadium in New York as Florida prepares to play the New York in the World Series.


They were still celebrating the great victory when Roger Clemens looked for David Wells and Mel Stottlemyre.

"Hey, we've got one more thing to do," Clemens told Wells early Friday morning.

The pitchers and the coach then made the long walk across the field to Monument Park, behind the left-field fence, and brought a bottle of bubbly out to the Babe Ruth monument that's been a fixture in Yankee Stadium since 1949.

According to Wells, they wanted "to have a touch with the Babe."

"He's shining on us. He's looking down," Wells said when he returned to the ballpark later in the day. "Why not give him a toast, man? He's the one that got us here. From 1918 until now -- the curse lives!"

Some of the Yankees went out for dinner and talked to each other until nearly dawn, sharing memories of Thursday night's 6-5, 11-inning win over Boston in Game 7 of the AL championship series.

While much of Friday was devoted to going over scouting reports ahead of the World Series opener against Florida on Saturday night, the Yankees couldn't help but look back at Thursday's win.

New York trailed 4-0 and became only the second team to overcome a four-run deficit in the final game of a postseason series pushed to the limit. The other was when Pittsburgh fell behind 4-0 before beating Washington 7-6 in Game 7 of the 1925 World Series.

Aaron Boone, who finished off Boston with the first extra-inning homer ever to end a seventh game, was jarred awake Friday when manager Joe Torre gave him an early morning telephone call.

"I know you're tired, but so am I," Torre said, telling Boone his presence was needed at a pep rally in front of City Hall.

While he had slumped since the Yankees acquired him from Cincinnati on July 31, Boone became the latest pinstriped darling when he homered off knuckleballer Tim Wakefield on the first pitch of the bottom of the 11th.

"Thank you for making last night probably the greatest moment in my life," Boone told the crowd of about 400.

"After this," said Mayor Michael Bloomberg, "Aaron's going to go behind City Hall and teach me how to hit a knuckleball."

Many of the Yankees regarded Friday as a defining moment. Seven of the players on the 25-man LCS roster weren't even with the organization on opening day,

"It felt the most like a ballclub last night, to me, than we have all year along," said Jason Giambi, whose pair of solo homers started the comeback against Pedro Martinez. "We're had such a revolving door here trying to find the right pieces of the puzzle to come in here and make a difference. The way the team reacted these whole seven games, and especially last night, I think we're peaking at the right time."

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