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 connected with each other while watching their team’s selected game at a set time. The Yankees were on the “field” for Game 7 of the 2003 American League Championship Series, when Aaron Boone swatted a pennant-winning homer that broke the hearts of Red Sox Nation.
“Opening Day at Home” was also 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.
Of course, you know how ALCS Game 7 ended, with Boone rounding the bases after launching the first pitch he saw from Tim Wakefield to lead off the home half of the 11th inning. Roll the clock back, however, and the Red Sox appeared to be in the driver’s seat, aiming to “reverse the curse” and end a World Series title drought that had reached 85 years to that point.
Boston pounced on Roger Clemens for three second-inning runs, as Trot Nixon hit a two-run homer and third baseman Enrique Wilson committed a throwing error that allowed Jason Varitek to score. Kevin Millar cracked a homer off Clemens to lead off the fourth, and two batters later, “The Rocket” was headed for the showers.
The momentum shifted as Yankees manager Joe Torre called upon Mike Mussina, who came out of the bullpen and pitched out of a two-on, none-out jam, holding the Sox scoreless for three innings. Jason Giambi touched an otherwise dominant Pedro Martínez for a fifth-inning homer that trimmed the deficit to 4-1, and then went deep again in the seventh to make it a two-run game.
“I’m in relief in a game that we’re probably going to lose,” Mussina said in 2019. “Pedro is pitching for the other team and we’re already down 4-0. Most likely, this isn’t going to work out for us. Somehow, after the fact, everything plays out, and you win the game. There’s all this excitement and the emotion level is through the roof. You look back on it and say, ‘Man, that turned out to be a pretty big deal.’ But it didn’t seem like a big deal at all. It seemed like mop-up time. If I do that 20 times, how many times do we come back and win? Once? Twice, maybe?”
David Ortiz’s eighth-inning homer off David Wells restored Boston’s lead to three runs, and when Nick Johnson popped out to open the home half of the eighth, the Red Sox were five outs away from reaching their first World Series since 1986. Though Boston had two relievers ready in the bullpen, manager Grady Little stuck with Martínez, even as Jeter doubled and scored on a Bernie Williams single to center field.
“A proud man, a proud baseball player, a proud pitcher never really wants to give up his sword,” Martínez said in 2018. “I was a wounded warrior, but I wanted to continue to fight.”
Little asked Martínez if he had enough left to face Hideki Matsui, who barreled an 0-2 fastball for a ground-rule double. Five pitches later, Jorge Posada flared a two-run double into shallow center field that tied the game, prompting a capacity crowd to shake the foundation of Yankee Stadium. The clubs proceeded until the 11th, with Mariano Rivera recording nine outs, when Boone etched his place in pinstriped lore.
“I think it’s had a huge factor in my life,” Boone said recently. “It probably added to my appeal when I retired with ESPN. It’s certainly something I’m known for in my baseball life, obviously. And in some way [it] probably is a contributor to me being here [as the Yankees’ manager] today.”
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 '19 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.