Golden Baseball Magazine

The Ultimate Game

This series presents the final game of each post-season series that went all the way.
Until 1946, that means World Series Game Sevens (none of the best-of-nine World Series went the full length).
2001 - Game 7: New York Yankees @ Arizona Diamondbacks

Mike Mussina

George Steinbrenner

"Derek Jeter flip" to Jorge Posada to nip Jason Giambi in ALDS.

Buck Showalter

Joe Torre and Bob Brenly before Game 3

President George W. Bush throws out the first ball before Game 3 at Yankee Stadium.

Derek Jeter exults after hitting the game-wining HR in Game 4.

Scott Brosius exults after tying Game 5 in front of dejected C Rod Barajas.

Andy Pettitte

Roger Clemens

Randy Johnson

Joe Torre's arrival in his native New York to manage the Yankees in 1996 led to a rebirth of the club that dominated baseball from 1936-1964.
  • Reportedly the fourth choice of Yankee management (after Sparky Anderson, Tony LaRussa, and Davey Johnson), the former C and NL batting champion got off to a rough start in the Big Apple even before his first game at the helm. The press and many fans thought his hiring was a colossal mistake and labeled him "Clueless Joe."
  • After all, he had managed 14 years in the NL, five with the Mets, three with Atlanta, and six with the Cardinals, and his clubs had broken the .500 mark just five times and never won the pennant, although his '82 Braves copped the AL West. His combined record was 109 games below .500 with no playoff victories.
  • But Joe proved to be the perfect choice to bring stability to a club that had endured 21 managerial changes in the last 23 seasons. He replaced Buck Showalter, who had led the Yanks to their first postseason appearance in 14 years but had blown a two-games-to-none lead in the Division Series against the Mariners and then resisted the changes in his coaching staff that owner George Steinbrenner insisted on.
  • Inheriting a solid roster, Torre immediately led the Yankees to the 1996 World Series championship. After losing to Cleveland in the ALCS in '97, the Yanks won the World Series three straight years - 1998, 1999, and 2000.
  • However, the 2000 club won only 87 regular season games, 17 less than the '98 juggernaut that ran away with the AL East by 22 games, then swept the Rangers and upended defending champion Cleveland in six before another sweep over the Padres in the World Series.

Eight starters from '98 remained in '01.

  • However, Chuck Knoblauch had moved from 2B to LF (replacing Chad Curtis), and Darryl Strawberry stepped in for David Justice as the primary DH.
  • Southpaw Andy Pettitte and 35-year-old righty Orlando Hernandez were the only holdovers from the '98 starting staff. But two outstanding veterans, Roger Clemens in his third year with NY and Mike Mussina in his first season, provided more than able replacements for David Wells and David Cone.
  • A long fade by the Red Sox allowed the Yankees to win the East by 13.5 games. However, their coasting to the division crown was interrupted in a big way by 9/11, which took an emotional toll on the ballplayers.
    The terrorist attacks caused a week's delay in the baseball season with the postponed games being replayed after the original scheduled was completed. When Torre met with his team to resume play, he had developed what he called "a certain perspective for the rest of the season." He told his men, The "NY" on our caps is all about New York, and not about the Yankees.

The playoffs presented a major obstacle to defending their World Series title - the 116-win Seattle Mariners, whose .716 winning % surpassed the '98 Yanks' .704.

  • It didn't look like Torre's guys had much a chance to even survive the best-of-five ALDS when they lost the first two games to Oakland at Yankee Stadium. But the Yanks, despite getting only two hits off Barry Zito, gutted out a 1-0 victory behind Mussina with two-inning relief from Mariano Rivera. After NY romped 9-2 the next day, the teams returned to New York for Game 5. Torre asked Clemens to get to the 5th and Roger did so, handing a 4-3 lead over to the bullpen, which shut out the A's the rest of the way.
    Game 5 of the Oakland series caused an injury that affected the Yankees' chances the rest of the post-season. In the 8th inning, Jeter raced after a pop fly and, just as he caught the ball, he smashed into the padded concrete wall with his hip and flipped into the stands. The play drew universal acclaim as evidence of his hustle and dedication to victory. But the collision with the wall hurt Derek more than he let on. He told no one, not even his manager. He stopped hitting, going only 2-for-17 against the Mariners.
  • Seattle, which eliminated Cleveland in five games in the ALDS, had won 6 of 9 in the season series against the Yanks. But playoff experience carried NY to victory in the first two games at Safeco Field, 4-2 behind Pettitte and Rivera and a 3-2 win for Mussina with help from Ramiro Mendoza and Mariano again.
  • The Mariners romped 14-3 in Game 3 before the Yankee pitching kicked in again to win 3-1 and 12-3 and end Seattle's dream season.
    Throughout the post-season, Torre donned a cap from friend and mentor Yogi Berra that displayed the former Yankee great's signature phrase: It ain't over 'til it's over.
The Arizona Diamondbacks won the NL pennant in only the fourth year of the franchise.
  • GM Joe Garagiola Jr. had done a great job of building the expansion team, as evidence by the fact that the second year D-backs won 100 games under Buck Showalter with a big boost from free agent P Randy Johnson.
  • But when Arizona won only 85 games the next season despite the midseason acquisition of Curt Schilling to bolster the pitching staff, former C Bob Brenly came down from the broadcasting booth to replace Showalter.
  • Adopting a more relaxed approach with fewer rules, Brenly led Arizona back on top of the NL West by two games over the Giants.
  • The best pitching tandem in the majors, Johnson and Schilling, won 43 games between them, almost half of the team's 92 victories. The next highest win total was 11 for Miguel Batista.
  • LF Luis Gonzalez had another outstanding year. After leading the league with 206 hits in 1999 with a .336 batting average, he slumped to .311 in 2000 but increased his homers from 26 to 31. Then he exploded in '01 with Barry Bonds-type numbers: 57 HRs and 142 RBI.
    The 57 roundtrippers was good for only third place in the NL behind Barry Bonds' 73 and Sammy Sosa's 64. The 142 RBIs also put him third behind Sosa (160) and Todd Helton (146). Gonzalez's power surge sparked rumors that he used performance-enhancing drugs (as did Bonds and Sosa). Luis vigorously denied the charge in 2006. He never hit more than 28 HRs in the remaining seven years of his career.
  • The D-backs proved again that two outstanding starters are enough to win post-season series as they outsted the Cardinals in five and breezed past Atlanta in the NLCS in another five. Schilling and Johnson were credited with all but two of Arizona's seven victories.

The Yankees wanted to win the World Series for the people of New York.

  • The New Yorkers knew they would have to beat either Schilling or Johnson at least once to win the Series. Having faced both in the American League, they likened facing the D-backs' aces to battling Boston's Pedro Martinez. These are not at-bats where you expect to walk away 4 for 4, said 3B Scott Brosius. You just go out there and try to really grind it out.
    The Associated Press published an article the day of Game One that started like this: Here's a sure-fire way to reach the World Series: Hire Buck Showalter to manage, let him leave, then wait a year. It worked for the New York Yankees and Arizona Diamondbacks. In 1995, Showalter left the Yankees after four moderately successful seasons and one quick-exit trip to the playoffs. Joe Torre took over, won it all the next season and now has a chance to win his fifth title in six years.
    In 2000, the Diamondbacks fired Showalter after three seasons, which included a division title and a first-round playoff loss. Bob Brenly was hired and is the first rookie manager in 20 years to take his team to the Series.
    Coincidence? Perhaps.
    "I look at it as they found two people who were perfect to carry them to that next level," Showalter said Thursday, "and whether I would have been that person, we'll never know."
  • Fox televised the Series with Joe Buck doing the play-by-play and Tim McCarver supplying the commentary. Steve Lyons reported from field level.
    Lyons had been added to the crew for '01 to replace Bob Brenly, who had joined Buck and McCarver in the booth for the 2000 classic but, of course, had other responsibilities the next year.
Series Results
  1. Saturday, October 27 @ Arizona: Diamondbacks 9 Yankees 1
    WP: Curt Schilling; LP: Mike Mussina
  2. Sunday, October 28 @ Arizona: Diamondbacks 4 Yankees 0
    WP: Randy Johnson; LP: Andy Pettitte
  3. Tuesday, October 30 @ New York: Yankees 2 Diamondbacks 1
    WP: Roger Clemens; LP: Brian Anderson
  4. Wednesday, October 31 @ New York: Yankees 4 Diamondbacks 3 (10 innings)
    WP: Mariano Rivera; LP: Byung-Hyun Kim
  5. Thursday, November 1 @ New York: Yankees 3 Diamondbacks 2 (12 innings)
    WP: Sterling Hitchcock; LP: Albie Lopez
  6. Saturday, November 3 @ Arizona: Diamondbacks 15 Yankees 2
    WP: Johnson; LP: Pettitte
The most talked-about player from the first six games of the World Series was a 22-year-old South Korean relief pitcher.
  • Byung-Hyun Kim led the D-backs in saves during the '01 season with 19. He had a respectable 2.94 ERA but only a 5-6 record - a large number of decisions for a closer.
    Arizona ranked 12th in the NL in saves with 34 but first in complete games with 12.
  • Arizona led Game 4 3-1 when Brenly handed the ball to Kim, a sidewheeling righty, to start the bottom of the 8th. He struck out the side.
  • Derek Jeter tried to bunt for a hit to start the 9th but was thrown out. Paul O'Neill singled before Bernie Williams struck out.
  • With the Yanks one out away from falling into a 3-1 hole, Tino Martinez smashed the first pitch into the RF bleachers to tie the game.
    The homer was Martinez's first hit of the Series.

Tino Martinez clouts the game-tying HR off Byung-Hyun Kim in Game 4.
  • With Kim still on the mound in the bottom of the 10th, Jeter smacked a HR to even the series at two games apiece.
    Since the roundtripper occurred a few minutes after midnight in a game that started on Halloween, was immediately branded "Mr. November."
  • Lightning struck again the next night in the first World Series game ever played in the month of November. The D-backs led 2-0 when Brenly placed his confidence in Kim in the bottom of the 9th.
  • Jorge Posada led off with a double to immediately bring the tying run to the plate. But Kim retired Scott Spencer on a groundout and struck out Chuck Knoblauch.
  • But Scott Brosius whacked a 1-0 delivery into the LF seats to tie the game.
  • The Yankees took the lead in the Series when Alfonso Soriano singled home Knoblauch in the 12th.
  • New Yorkers took the two dramatic comebacks as evidence that it was in the cards for the Yankees to give the Big Apple a giant lift by winning the World Series two months after 9-11.
  • But Arizona refused to cooperate. Facing elimination, the D-backs battered Andy Pettitte in Game 6 to extend the Series. The home team's 22 hits set a World Series record.
    The Diamondbacks had figured out that Pettitte was tipping his pitches when working from the stretch. When he prepared to throw a curve, he would draw his hands from his shoulder level to his waist in an arc, looping his hands in front of him. Before throwing his fastball, he would bring his hands straight down to his waist.
  • So baseball would enjoy only its third Game 7 in the last 14 years - fitting for a season of national tragedy.

Game 7 promised to be a classic pitching duel between two ace righthanders.

  • Both Curt Schilling and Roger Clemens had recorded victories earlier in the Series, each giving up just a single run. The two had won 42 games between them during the regular season. Both were strong contenders for the Cy Young Award in their respective leagues.
    At age 39, Clemens became the oldest starting pitcher ever in a Game 7.
  • Roger was 3-0 in his six Fall Classic starts with a 1.59 ERA. Curt was almost as good: 2-1, 2.45 ERA in four games with the Phillies in '93 and D-backs in '01.
    Clemens, who earlier in the season became the first P in history to go 20-1, would cop the AL Award for the sixth time (with three different teams). However, Schilling's teammate Randy Johnson would win his third straight NL Award.

After Game 6, Curt Schilling did his best Joe Namath imitation.

  • The Arizona hurler told reporters: If I get the ball, we'll win the World Series. I honestly believe that in my heart of hearts.
  • Johnson told his manager that he would be available for relief late in Game 7 as long as he had sufficient time to warmup as he did when starting. Brenly was criticized after Game 6 for not pulling Johnson earlier since the D-backs led 15-0 after five innings. But Bob let The Big Unit throw 105 pitches over seven innings.

In the locker room before Game 7, Mariano Rivera, a very religious man, told his Yankee teammates that "what happens tonight is in God's hands."

New York Lineup
Derek Jeter SS
Paul O'Neill RF
Bernie Williams CF
Tino Martinez 1B
Jorge Posada C
Shane Spencer LF
Alfonso Soriano 2B
Scott Brosius 3B
Roger Clemens P
Arizona Lineup
Tony Womack SS
Craig Counsell 2B
Luis Gonzalez LF
Matt Williams 3B
Steve Finley CF
Danny Bautista RF
Mark Grace 1B
Damian Miller C
Curt Schilling P

Paul O'Neill acknowledging crowd in his last game at Yankee Stadium

Bernie Williams

Craig Counsell

Matt Williams

Jorge Posada

Shane Spencer

Steve Finley

Danny Bautista

Mark Grace

Damien Miller

Mike Stanton

Alfonso Soriano after his HR

Miguel Batista

Chuck Knoblauch

David Dellucci at 2nd as Jeter tries to collect himself after missing Rivera's throw.

Jay Bell

Womack drives in tying run.

Gonzalez bloops the game-winner.

Gonzalez exults and Rivera leaves the mound after the game-winning hit

Rivera walks off mound as D-backs rejoice.

The vast majority in the crowd of 49,589 at Bank One Ballpark waved white towels as their heroes took the field.

1st inning

  • Derek Jeter (3-23 with one RBI, the game winner in Game 4) took a 97 mph fast ball on the outside corner for strike three.
    Paul O'Neill, probably playing his last game before retiring, golfed a liner to the wall in RCF. He decided to try for 3rd and was thrown out, from RF Danny Bautista to 2B Craig Counsell to 3B Matt Williams.
    O'Neill had been serenaded by the fans chanting his name in farewell Yankee Stadium as he left the field in the top of the 9th of Game 5 at Yankee Stadium. Torre commented on it afterward. You know what was good about that? We were losing the game, and they still thought enough of him to show their appreciation. He's a blue-collar guy, and they appreciate that. O'Neill said he felt as if he were in a movie. It would have been nice if I could have hit a game-winning homer.
    Bernie Williams (5-for-20, .250) flew to Steve Finley in CF.
  • Tony Womack popped to Williams in short CF.
    Left-handed hitting 2B Craig Counsell, the NLCS MVP, smacked a hard grounder just over the bag at 1st. Tino Martinez knocked the ball down and tossed to Clemens, who dropped the throw as he, the sliding Counsell, and the ball arrived at the bag almost simultaneously. The official scorers gave Tino an error. An inning later they changed the error to Clemens.
    Luis Gonzalez (6-for-22) had been bothered by a strained left hamstring and a sore left wrist after being hit by Pettitte in Game 2. Clemens threw to 1st several times in an attempt to pick off Counsell which he had done in Game 3. When Luis worked the count full, took off for 2nd but the batter fouled off the pitch. Craig took off again on the next pitch as Gonzalez fought off a high fast ball that rolled to Martinez at 1st.
    Matt Williams (6-for-22) fell behind 0-2, then whiffed on a fork ball a few pitches later.

2nd inning

  • Tino Martinez, 0-for-5 against Schilling in the Series, struck out on three straight splitters.
    Martinez and Luis Gonzalez played Little League together in Tampa FL and later starred for the same high school baseball team. Playing together in the World Series was their dream but on the same team, not against each other. It's going to be awesome, Tino said before the Series. I'm happy for him. He's had a great year, and I hope we beat them.
    Next up was Jorge Posada.
    The Yankee C later recalled what made Schilling so tough. He could spot the ball anywhere around the plate. He rarely threw the curve or the slider, so you could go up there looking for a fastball or a splitter. He made a living working down and away, but as I said, he could move his pitches, particularly the fastball, all around the zone. If you went looking outside, he could bust you in on the hands.
    flew to Gonzalez just inside the LF line.
    Shane Spencer crushed a fast ball to straightaway CF, but Steve Finley, getting a great jump, caught it over his head on the dead run.
  • Finley (.354 through the first six games) rapped a one-hopper that Jeter speared to his left and threw to 1st for the out.
    Danny Bautista took Reggie Sanders place in RF. Bautista, unlike Sanders, was a high ball hitter facing a high ball P. Danny walked on a 3-2 pitch.
    Mark Grace, hitting only .133 (2-for-15), was in the lineup in place of Erubiel Durazo because Brenly felt Mark had played too long not to play in Game 7. Grace lined a hit-and-run single on one hop to Spencer in LF. Despite the jump, the runner had to stop at 2nd.
    C Damian Miller fanned on a nasty splitter.
    Schilling made his rival work, extending the count to 2-2, because taking a 95 mph fastball

3rd inning

  • Alfonso Soriano golfed an 0-2 delivery to Bautista in RF.
    Soriano would later pull another knee high delivery into the seats in LCF.
    Scott Brosius drew some boos because of his dramatic 9th-inning four-bagger in Game 4. The Yankee 3B fouled the first pitch to Grace near the stands.
    Schilling dispatched Clemens quickly on fast balls.
  • Womack swung through a 2-2 hard one.
    Counsell broke his 1-for-21 slump with a line single up the middle.
    As he did in the 1st with Counsell aboard, Clemens fired to 1st several times. When Gonzalez swung through a 2-2 fast ball, Craig barely got back to the bag when Posada fired to 1st.
    Williams got a piece of "Mr. Splitty" (as Clemens called his forkball) and hit a slow bouncer down the 3B line. Brosius came in, grabbed the ball barehanded next to the bag, and fired low to 1st. Martinez could not corral the throw, and Matt was given a single.
    With runners at 1st and 2nd for the second straight inning, Clemens struck out Finley.

4th inning

  • Jeter stroked a 2-2 fastball to Bautista in RF.
    O'Neill swung awkwardly at a splitter and struck out.
    With home plate umpire Steve Rippley continuing to have a wide strike zone, Schilling caught Williams looking on a fastball on the inside corner.
  • Bautista popped to CF to break his string of five straight times reaching base.
    Grace scalded a short hopper in front of Jeter that took a wicked hop off the Yankee captain's glove into LF.
    Overmatched against Clemens, Miller went down swinging on three pitches.
    Schilling took four pitches to give The Rocket his 8th K.

5th inning

  • Martinez took Schilling to a full count with several 3-2 fouls before flying to CF to make Tino 0-7 against Curt in the Series.
    Posada took a 2-2 fastball for strike three.
    Spencer got the green light on 3-0 and popped to 2B.
  • Womack bounced to Soriano.
    Counsell hit a hopper over Clemens' head that Jeter charged and whipped a sidearm throw to 1st to nip the batter.
    Jeter appeared to have aggravated his hip and leg injuries on the play.
    Soriano booted Gonzalez's grounder and threw late to 1st for his third error of the Series.
    Williams hit the fourth grounder of the inning to Jeter, who got the force at 2nd.
6th inning
  • Soriano became Schilling's 7th strikeout victim.
    Brosius couldn't check his swing on a pitch in the dirt outside to become the fifth Yankee in the last seven batters to fan.
    Clemens got good wood on the ball but lined to Bautista in RF.
    Schilling had faced the minimum 18 batters through six innings.
    Between innings, Torre went to the clubhouse to use the bathroom. He found The Boss, George Steinbrenner, waiting for him. The Yankee owner had taken his customary position in the clubhouse during postseason games.
    What do you think? Steinbrenner asked Torre, seeking reassurance. He was a wreck, Joe recalled.
    With Schilling on top of his game, the NY skipper could not tell his boss what he wanted to hear. Boss, I wish I could give you something positive. But I don't know if we're ever going to score a run here. I wish the hell I knew, George.
  • Finley got Arizona's fifth hit, a liner to CF to put the leadoff man on for the first time for either team.
    Ramiro Mendoza got up in the New York bullpen.
    With the defense expecting a bunt, Bautista shot a liner to the wall in LCF to send Finley home. But Jose was cut down trying to 3rd, 8-6-5.
    Miked for the game, Brenly told one of his coaches before the pitch to Bautista: I put bunt on, then I changed my mind, and I'm going to give him one whack at it.
    With the crowd louder than ever, Grace bounced out 4-3.
    Miller struck out for the third time.
    Diamondbacks 1 Yankees 0

7th inning

  • Having thrown over 300 innings for the season, Schilling finally showed signs of tiring.
    Jeter socked a single to RF and limped down the line.
    O'Neill followed with another drive that landed just in front of Finley, who smothered the ball on the short hop to hold Jeter at 2nd.
    With the Yankees having two on for the first time all night, two pitchers started throwing in the D-backs pen.
    Showing no sign of bunting, Williams (who last sacrificed in 1996) swung at the first two fast balls but fouled them as they tried to ground the ball toward the right side to at least move Jeter to 3rd. After another foul, Bernie grounded to Grace running wide of 1st. Mark went for the sure out at 2nd to put runners at 1st and 3rd with only one out.
    Previously in the Series, the Yankees had gotten a runner to 3rd with less than two out just one time in an inning, and that was in Game 6 with the score 15-0.
    The wind kicked up, and rain started falling as Martinez batted. Tino spanked an 0-1 pitch on a line to RF to tie the game. However, Williams stopped at 2nd.
    Posada hit an easy fly to Gonzalez. Two out.
    Spencer fouled a high fast ball back. The second pitch hit his bat as he checked his swung. 0-2. Then he rapped the next pitch on a line to RCF, but Finley tracked it down to save two more runs.
    Diamondbacks 1 Yankees 1
    The game paused between innings for the playing of "God Bless America" by trumpeter Jesse McGuire.
  • Schilling hit for himself even though he showed signs of faltering in the top of the inning.
    Tim McCarver told the TV viewers: Clearly, Bob Brenly will pinch-hit for Curt Schilling. But when Curt stepped in, Tim said: I'm surprised. Fourteen home runs by his pinch-hitters this year. You're running out of outs.
    Clemens got his tenth K on a 1-2 fastball on the outside corner.
    Womack fought Roger for six pitches before grounding a single just to the left of a diving Soriano at 2nd.
    That brought Torre to the mound to take out Clemens after 114 pitches in favor of lefty Mike Stanton.
    Mike started with a quick throw to 1st that almost picked off Womack, who had an 80% steal average during the year. On the 1-1 pitch, Counsell swung and missed on a hit-and-run. Posada threw out only 24% of runners but nailed Tony who appeared to hesitate a moment. Counsell fouled out to Martinez on the next pitch.
8th inning
  • The rain continued as Schilling took the hill again as starters Randy Johnson and Miguel Batista threw in the bullpen.
    With the 9th spot due up third in the 8th, Torre had a decision to make.
    Who's going to come in and pitch the 8th inning? asked bench coach Don Zimmer.
    Mendoza, Torre replied.
    You can't bring in Mendoza, Zimmer insisted. You've got to bring Mo in.
    We're on the road
    , Torre said. Who am I going to save this game with?
    I know. But you'll kick yourself in the ass if you never get Mariano in the game.
    But what the hell am I going to do? Who am I going to trust with a lead?
    What about Mariano now?
    Yeah, sure. And if Sori hits a home run here, it'll solve the whole problem.
    After two fouls put him in an 0-2 hole, Alfonso got hold of a splitter, Curt's 95th pitch, and golfed it into the LCF seats.
    The Yankees bounced happily around the dugout, feeling that they had the run they needed to win their fourth straight World Series.
    Mariano Rivera immediately got up in the bullpen in expectation of coming in for a six-out save.
    Brosius struck out swinging.
    David Justice pinch-hit for Stanton and grounded a single through the box into CF.
    With that, Brenly brought in Batista.
    Miked for Fox, Brenly said this as arrived at the mound: Helluva effort, Hoss. We're gonna put Miguel on this guy right here. Get a fresh arm in here. Helluva effort, big man. You're my hero. That [run] ain't gonna beat us. We're gonna get that back and then some. That ain't gonna beat us, big man.
    Schilling: I was not going to leave anything in the bullpen. And knowing that he (Johnson) was going down to the bullpen on ... not even a day's rest made what I was doing a lot easier mentally today.
    Jeter spanked the ball on the ground to 3B Williams, playing at the front edge of the infield. Matt fired to Counsell who couldn't get a grip on the ball to complete the DP.
    The crowd roared as Johnson now came in for the 11th relief appearance of his career. Randy had thrown 105 pitches the night before.
    Right-hand hitting Chuck Knoblauch hit for O'Neill. He smashed a pitch down the LF line just foul. Jeter sped around 2nd, then limped as he returned to 1st after the ball went foul. A few pitches later, Chuck flied to RF.
    Yankees 2 Diamondbacks 1
  • With the incomparable Mariano Rivera taking over, Arizona's chances looked bleak. He had 24 post-season saves in 25 opportunities, including 23 in a row. 19 of those saves were more than one inning. He also had the lowest ERA in post-season history at 0.70.
    Brenly had made an interesting comment after losing three one-run games in New York, all of which Rivera was involved in. Bob said his fantasy would be to return to Arizona and not only win the World Series but do so against Rivera in Game 7.
    Knoblauch stayed in and played LF with Spencer switching to RF.
    Rivera faced the middle of the D-backs order: 3-4-5. He started by fanning Gonzalez on a 2-2 count.
    Williams took a strike, fouled back a pitch, then swung through a high fast ball.
    Finley smashed a 1-0 pitch through the big hole between 1st and 2nd for a single.
    Bautista, who had hit well in the Series, struck out on three pitches.

9th inning

  • Williams flew out to shallow CF.
    Martinez grounded to Womack.
    Posada, hitting right-handed against Johnson, went down swinging.
  • The bottom of the order would have to come through for the D-backs to win.
    The Yankees gathered at the dugout railing, ready to rush the field to hug Rivera and congratulate each other on a fourth consecutive world championship, their fifth in six years. The prospect of failure didn't occur to them. This was Mariano Rivera.
    Meanwhile, George Steinbrenner stood in front of the bathroom mirror, combing his hair to prepare for receiving the Commissioner's Trophy for a fourth straight year. Unknown to him, one of his biggest superstitions was being defied.
    Fox technicans had entered the Yankee clubhouse to set up lights and cables for the postgame celebration. A security official tried to evict them. You can't be in here! The Boss will go nuts.
    Grace paid off Brenly's faith in him. Choking up as a defense against Rivera's cutter, Mark rapped his third hit of the evening, a single to CF. David Dellucci went in as a pinchrunner.
    With a man on 1st, Miller hit for himself in order to bunt. He fouled the first delivery. Then he bunted back to the mound. Rivera whirled and threw a cut fastball that tailed away from Jeter covering 2nd. With his and knee injuries, Derek was not as nimble as usual. He tried to stretch for the ball while keeping his foot on the bag, but it went off his glove. Instead of one out and a man on 2nd, Arizona had 1st and 2nd with no outs.
    Rivera afterward: If I get the out at second base, things are different.
    : He (Jeter) couldn't extend to get that throw.
    Even seven years later when interviewed by Tom Verducci, Jeter refused to use injury as an excuse. Asked if he was playing hurt in Game 7, he replied, I was all right. When told it looked like he was not at full speed going out to his position in the late innings, he repeated, I was all right.
    When pushed, he said, You get to a point, especially that late in the season, everybody's got something wrong with him.
    If he was healthy, would he have caught the tailing throw from Mo? No. Mo threw a two-seamer ... Maybe ... No, I don't think. Even if I caught it, we wouldn't have got him.
    Right after the error, Steinbrenner walked into the Yankees' clubhouse and was stunned to see the TV crews setting up for the trophy presentation. Get out of here! he yelled. You're jinxing me! Get out of here! They quickly exited to the hallway.
    Torre went to the mound and gathered the entire infield. Get an out, he told them. I'm not worried about second and third with Mariano. Just get an out.
    That set up another sacrifice situation. So Jay Bell, an excellent bunter, hit for Johnson. But Jay bunted too hard and too straight. Rivera threw to 3rd to easily get the lead runner. Brosius was content to get the forceout although it appeared he had a shot at a DP if he relayed to 1st.
    Torre: I don't know if I planted the seed with Brosius when I said, "Get an out." The guy at first base, he's out easily. What a surprise that was, because he caught the ball, and he sort of just walked in, and the guy was like two-thirds of the way to first base. All he had to do was throw it. And we had a double play. But he was so good instinctively, and it was right there in front of him. It wasn't like he had to turn. He just never threw the ball. The game may have wound up with the same result. Who knows? But it would have been a little tougher for them because they would have had two outs.
    Speedy OF Midre Cummings took Miller's place at 2nd.
    With the bunt off with one out, Womack took two straight balls. After Rivera evened the count, Tony whacked a hanging cutter just inside the RF line to send Cummings home with the tying run and Bell to 3rd.
    With the winning run on 3rd, Torre told the infield to play in for Counsell rather than at double play depth. Rivera's second pitch tailed in and hit Counsell to load the bases.
    Torre: I had no choice. At that point, you play the infield up. If someone hits a groundball off Mo, it's going to be an 87-hopper somewhere. You're not going to get a double play. And I hate to think of watching the winning run cross the plate while we're trying to get a double play, I don't care how slow the runner is.
    Gonzalez decided to choke up on the bat against Rivera.
    Since Mariano became the Yankees' closer in 1997, hitters had faced him 33 times with the bases loaded and batted just .071.
    Luis had struck out and hit a weak grounder against Rivera in the World Series.
    So he decided not to use his wide-open stance with his bottom two fingers on the knob of the bat but to choke up two inches. It was the first time I choked up all year, he recalled. I told myself, "Whatever you do, just try to put the ball in play somewhere."
    Luis fouled back a high fastball. In the broadcast booth, Tim McCarver made this prescient observation: The one problem is Rivera throws inside to lefthanders, and lefthanders get a lot of broken bat hits to the shallow part of the outfield. That's the danger in bringing the infield in with a guy like Rivera on the mound. Sure enough, on the next pitch, Gonzalez blooped a floater over Jeter's head that just cleared the infield dirt to give the D-backs the championship in only their fourth year of existence.
    The cutter bored in on Gonzalez's hands and cracked the bat just below the trademark when he swung.
    Victims of two 9th-inning comebacks earlier in the Series, the D-backs staged one of their own to seize the crown.

Curt Schilling and Randy Johnson, who received credit for all four of Arizona's wins - one for Curt, three for Randy including Game 7 in relief of Schilling, were voted co-MVPs.

Johnson and Schilling with the World Series and MVP trophies

Luis Gonzalez

Bob Brenly leaves field after game.

Jerry Colangelo receives World Series trophy.

Mariano Rivera faces the press.


Diamondbacks Clubhouse

  • As his son poured champagne on his head, Brenly agreed that the '01 World Series deserved the "classic" label. It's had a little bit of everything. It's had great pitching, and some of the most ungodly, timely hitting you're ever going to see in your life. He added that the series had enough manager's decisions to keep second-guessers happy. All over the country I think people are surprised this series has gone the way it has. But I can't wait to sit back and watch the tapes myself. ... I'm a blind optimist. A lot of that comes from playing and coaching under Roger Craig. He was always looking for the silver lining, the possibility of getting back and winning the ballgame. Thank God the players bought into it, too.
    On playing Bautista in RF over Sanders: The alternative sitting a guy who had five RBI. I told Reggie Sanders this was the single toughest lineup decision I had to make all season long. It was just simply a matchup thing against Clemens.
  • Schilling was asked about his guarantee after Game 6 that the D-backs would win Game 7. I didn't say how we'd win it, just that we'd win it. This is a fitting end to this season. ... We went through sports' greatest dynasty to win our first World Series. They have represented baseball to the nth degree and to win it (against them) makes it even more special. ... This is one of those things that's going to take a whole lot of time to absorb. Euphoric would be the beginning of my description.
  • The normally taciturn Johnson was so happy he opened up more than usual. I'm probably talking more now than I ever have. ... Me and Curt fed off one another all year long. And, you know, I think we made ourselves better. ... It still really has not quite sunk in yet.
  • Gonzalez: A storybook ending for this team from front to back. On Rivera: That was the one guy we wanted to stay away from the whole World Series. We got him the one time it counted.
  • Grace, who started the winning rally: Was there any doubt in anybody's mind that somehow, some way, Game 7 was going to be crazy, unlikely? How could you get more unlikely than beating Mariano Rivera? But I'll tell you what, this team believes. Mark couldn't resist taking a jab at the club that didn't resign him after the 2000 season. I wasn't good enough to be the first baseman for the Cubs. But I'm good enough to be the first baseman for the world champions, and that feels pretty damn good.
  • Owner Jerry Colangelo as Schilling doused him with champagne: I would have to say this has to be one of the very classic World Series. The ebbs and flows and the great games and plays. But this is what stories and dreams are about, to win a World Series.
    Colangelo had tried for three decades to win a title with his NBA Phoenix Suns. This was the first major professional sports championship ever won by an Arizona team.

Yankees Clubhouse

  • Torre: If you're going to ask one thing when the evening starts, it's to have Rivera in the game. We had it. They beat our best. You tip your hat to them. We realize how many times we snatched it away from people when they were close, so you really have to take both sides of this thing. ... My ballclub represented New York well, and I'm proud of them for that. We represented more than just baseball fans. The people that needed a lift. I think we entertained them. ... The most important thing is you always want an opportunity to defend what you've done. Teams that win the World Series don't necessarily get there the following year. I've always felt that when you are going to relinquish it, you want to make somebody take it away from you. ... This World Series will be one of the more memorable ones. It's been a little weird; those three crazy games in New York and then the Diamondbacks knocking our brains out here and the matchup of two 20-game winners, potential Cy Young Award winners.
    Torre recalled: I came into the clubhouse, and George was there. He was, like we all were, stunned. I don't think we had any conversation. It was tough after the game because you knew you were saying goodbye to a lot of players. I had a meeting, and then I went over and hugged them all. You're weren't going to have Knoblauch back, you weren't going to have O'Neill back, Tino, Brosius - he was another one. ... I didn't lose any sleep over it other than the result. There was really nothing. Now, did I do everything right? I don't know. But I know one thing: I wouldn't have done anything different.
    On Clemens: He got us in position to get a lead late in the game, which is all we really want.
    On Spencer, the heir apparent for Paul O'Neill in RF: I'm happy for him because he works hard, and he certainly has seized the moment. He has given us an opportunity to look forward to seeing him in spring training.
    Posada years later: What I remember most is how quiet that locker room was and seeing Mo at his locker staring straight ahead. I walked up to him and held out my hand. He shook it and I said, "You don't have to do this." He nodded his head. "I know. But I need to. The sooner the better," he said of having to face the media. "I made a couple of mistakes. They hit them. There's nothing I can do now. The sooner I talk to everybody and answer their questions, the sooner I can put this behind me. I'll be better next time. I just wish we could have done it for the fans." ... We hugged and I walked away, knowing that he wanted to be alone to get his thoughts together before the media came in.
  • Rivera was as cool and collected as always. They did everything to win. Sometimes it doesn't go the way you expect it. ...I made the pitches I wanted to make, and they hit them. That's baseball. I did everything I could, and they beat me. I feel good. I didn't pitch as well as I wanted to.
  • Stanton: There's nobody in the history of baseball I'd rather have out there. Regardless of what happened tonight, that hasn't changed. He's the best. ... You saw the light at the end of the tunnel, and it was taken away.
  • Brosius: It was an incredible game, an incredible series. Obviously, it's bitter to be on the wrong side of it, but it was an unbelievable game. ... You just can't assume you're going to win every game, every time. It just doesn't happen that way.
  • After congratulating Jerry Colangelo, George Steinbrenner spoke with reporters. I will not say a bad word about Mariano. How many times has he won it for me? He's the best. ... I'm telling you we will be back. When asked if this was his toughest loss as an owner, he said that every loss was difficult. I'm proud of my team. That's all I will say. we played our hearts out. It was a very tough loss. I will be a gracious loser. I'm not a good loser. I believe in what Ernest Hemingway said. "The way you get to be a good loser is practice, and I ain't going to be practicing."
    Steinbrenner didn't want to go back to the Yankees clubhouse. So he walked to one of the team busses and sat by himself. When family members finally came out of the stadium, they saw him and boarded another bus.
In a 2019 article in Baseball Digest, Mariano Rivera reflected on his career and on Game 7 of the 2001 World Series.
To me, that was one of the best World Series we had and we lost it. And I was sure we were winning that game. I throw the eighth inning and you could hear a pin drop on that field, in the whole stadium. And the ninth inning comes, you know, and I throw the ball away. I'd never done that before. And then a play where I believe everything was defined. Jay Bell bunted right at me. I threw to third base and Scott (Brosius) never throws the ball to first base. I believe the Lord was in control and he didn't want us to win that game. That's the way I saw it.
If we would have won, Enrique Wilson, who I love, and his family may have lost their lives.
(Wilson and his family were scheduled to be on American Airlines Flight 587 from JFK Airport in new York to Santo Domingo on Nov. 12, 2001 - after a Yankees victory parade up the "Canyon of Heroes." But, with no celebration, Wilson's family departed on an earlier flight. The flight that Wilson's family had originally planned to be on crashed shortly after takeoff, killing all 260 passengers and crew members.)
References: The Yankee Years, Joe Torre and Tom Verducci (2010)
The Journey Home: My Life in Pinstripes, Jorge Posada with Gary Brozek (2015)
If These Walls Could Talk: New York Yankees - Stories from the New York Yankees Dugout, Locker Room, and Press Box, Jim Kaat with Greg Jennings (2015)
"Q&A with Mariano Rivera," Baseball Digest, July/August 2019
Next in this series: 2002 Giants @ Angels