On Thursday, Major League Baseball presented “Opening Day at Home” -- a full slate of 30 games broadcast nationally across various platforms including networks, digital streaming and social media, creating a full-day event on what would have been Opening Day. The experience was intended to invite fans to feel a
On Thursday, Major League Baseball presented “Opening Day at Home” -- a full slate of 30 games broadcast nationally across various platforms including networks, digital streaming and social media, creating a full-day event on what would have been Opening Day. The experience was intended to invite fans to feel a sense of community and unity on a day many were looking forward to while underscoring the importance of staying home to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
• Complete Opening Day at Home coverage
Using the hashtag #OpeningDayAtHome, fans could connect with each other while watching their team’s selected game at a set time. The selected D-backs game was their thrilling Game 7 victory over the Yankees in the 2001 World Series.
“Opening Day at Home” also served as an opportunity for MLB to raise awareness for several worthy charities that are helping provide relief to the most vulnerable communities impacted by the pandemic. Last week, MLB and the MLBPA made a $1 million joint donation to Feeding America and Meals on Wheels, in addition to a $30 million commitment made by MLB clubs to emergency relief for ballpark employees. If so willing and able, fans can contribute toward these charities, MLB official charity Boys & Girls Clubs of America, and additional causes at MLB.com/give.
The D-backs franchise was in just its fourth season in 2001 when, led by Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling’s pitching and Luis Gonzalez’s 57 home runs, they stormed to an NL West title and eventually a berth in the World Series.
While the World Series itself will be remembered for how it helped lift the spirits of New York City, which only a little more than a month before had suffered the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, Game 7 would have been historic regardless.
The game featured a matchup between two aces -- Schilling and the Yankees’ Roger Clemens.
The two battled to a 1-1 tie before Clemens departed the game and the Yankees grabbed a 2-1 lead when Alfonso Soriano homered off Schilling in the eighth.
"We knew Mariano Rivera was going to be in the game," Steve Finley said of the Yankees closer. "Coming off that field to a man we said, 'We are going to get the guy this time.' I can't explain it, but we were confident about being able to get to him this time around."
Rivera, who at the time had saved 23 straight postseason games, pitched a scoreless eighth.
“He just blew through us in the eighth,” said then-GM Joe Garagiola Jr.
The D-backs, though, managed to put together a rally in the ninth, which included a rare throwing error by Rivera and a hit by pitch.
After the D-backs tied the game on a double by Tony Womack, Gonzalez eventually came to the plate with one out and the bases loaded.
“As a little kid, you always play those scenarios out in your mind,” Gonzalez said. “Game 7 of the World Series, you always play that little tape in your mind. Because that's the biggest game.”
Rivera was tough on lefties with his signature cut fastball that ran in on the hands of left-handers, often breaking their bats.
“I choked up a little bit more in the ninth inning because when [Yankees manager Joe] Torre went in and brought the infield in, I just didn't want to hit a ground ball,” Gonzalez said. “I just wanted to get it into the outfield somehow and our guys could tag up and score.”
After Rivera jumped ahead 0-1, he threw a cutter that did jam Gonzalez, but he was able to fight it off and lift the ball in the air where it fell in shallow left field. Had shortstop Derek Jeter been playing back instead of in, he might have had a chance at catching it.
Instead, the ball hit the grass and Jay Bell trotted home from third base to clinch the championship for the D-backs.
This week, MLB unlocked its expansive vault and is offering fans special access to the most unforgettable moments. MLB has made the entire 2018 and 2019 game archives free to all fans through MLB.TV. Fans can also access more than 200 full classic MLB games on YouTube including timeless World Series games, memorable postseason matchups, no-hitters and perfect games.
Steve Gilbert has covered the D-backs for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB.