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.
Using the hashtag #OpeningDayAtHome, fans could connect with each other while watching their team’s selected game at a set time. The featured Marlins game is a true classic: Game 6 of the 2003 World Series, when Josh Beckett went the distance to close out the Yankees and help the Marlins win their second championship in franchise history.
“Opening Day at Home” also was 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.
“No risk, no reward,” might as well have been Jack McKeon’s motto in 2003, because the then-72-year-old manager of the Marlins regularly rolled the dice instead of playing it safe.
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The biggest risk the cigar-chomping McKeon made was going with Beckett, a brash 23-year-old, on three days’ rest in Game 6 of the 2003 World Series against the Yankees.
With the Marlins in position to seal a title, McKeon went all out to avoid a decisive Game 7 at Yankee Stadium. That meant turning to his best pitcher in Game 6 instead of saving him for a possible win-or-go-home game.
"I've got to go with the best," McKeon said in June 2015 when Beckett was honored at Marlins Park. "I can't get the Yankees to go to Game 7. I'm not about to give the sixth game away. If they're going to beat us in [Game 6], I've got another guy, [Carl] Pavano, who will go on three days' rest. I know the mystique of the Yankees. If you get a chance to go to Game 7, something was going to happen to them. I was going to make sure it didn't."
Pitching on short rest was clearly not a big deal for Beckett, who was later named the World Series MVP. On Oct. 25, 2003, the hard-throwing right-hander tossed a five-hit shutout, striking out nine in the Marlins’ 2-0 victory in front of 55,773 disbelieving fans at Yankee Stadium. Fittingly, the ball was in Beckett’s hand for the final out. The young Marlins ace gathered Jorge Posada’s slow roller down the first-base line and tagged out the Yankees’ catcher, setting off a wild celebration in the Bronx.
Beckett, who turns 40 on May 15, retired after the 2014 season. He was traded to the Red Sox before the '06 season and won another World Series with Boston in '07.
"It was a good group of guys," Beckett said in 2015 of the '03 Marlins club. "We knew we were good. We just weren't playing good at the time. We obviously took off. I don't think anybody was that surprised who knew what kind of guys we had in here."
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.
Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast.