In 1996, I was in my junior year at Fordham University in the Bronx. Just a short subway ride from Yankee Stadium, Fordham was the perfect place to be during the Yankees' championship season. I was at the first two games of the American League Division Series versus the Texas Rangers and watched the rest of the postseason on television.
Whether it was rookie Derek Jeter, or veterans like David Cone, Jimmy Key, or Darryl Strawberry, this team had a little bit of everything. The Yankees were led by Joe Torre, one of the easiest guys to root for in sports. And we were still at the very beginning of the latest Yankees dynasty. It was a very special time to be a Yankees fan.
I grew up in the 1980s when the Mets were the better team. They got the headlines because they had the characters and the championship in 1986. But the Yankees were always my team, and in 1996, I got to see them in the World Series for the first time.
Here were the key moments that I'll always remember from the 1996 World Series:
Game 1: After all the anticipation, the first game of the World Series was a clunker for the Yankees. The Braves routed New York 12-1 thanks to two home runs by Andruw Jones and one homer by Fred McGriff.
Game 2: At the time, there wasn't anyone better than Greg Maddux, who pitched the Braves to a 4-0 victory in Game 2. Suddenly, just like the Mets in 1986, the Yankees had dropped the first two games of the series at home, and now headed to Atlanta where they'd have to win two games to make it back to the Bronx.
Game 3: David Cone was the savior when he joined the Yankees in 1995, and he was the savior in Atlanta as he got the Yankees back into the Series with a strong performance.
Game 4: This is when things really started to turn. The Yankees fell behind 6-0, but then Jim Leyritz hit a three-run homer in the eighth inning off Braves closer Mark Wohlers. The Yankees won it in 10 innings, and the series was even at two games apiece.
Game 5: Andy Pettitte turned in one of the greatest postseason pitching performances you'll ever see. He pitched 8 1/3 innings, allowing just five hits and no runs. The Yankees won 1-0 and went ahead 3-2 in the World Series heading back to New York.
Game 6: One of the most memorable nights I've ever had as a baseball fan. Jimmy Key pitched great. Joe Girardi's triple has been replayed ever since. Charlie Hayes caught the final out. It all ended with Wade Boggs riding a horse around Yankee Stadium. The Yankees had won the World Series.
They would win the World Series again in 1998, 1999, and 2000. It's true that the Yankees' dynasty was born in 1995, but 1996 was the first World Series they'd been to in a while. It was also the first time I got to see my Yankees play in the Fall Classic.
The Yankees were back on top of the baseball world. They haven't left since.
Charles Costello is a lifelong fan of the New York Yankees. He was a beat reporter assigned to cover the team during the 1997 and 1998 seasons.