Many children grow up playing baseball in their backyard, pretending they are at the plate in the bottom of the 9th with a chance to win the game. This dream normally ends with a home run, over the fence, and into the neighbor’s backyard. Some of these children will grow up and see this dream become a reality. This time, however, the ball won’t land in a backyard. It will land in a crowd of 50,000 people, and in front of millions of fans watching around the world, via television. At times, a walk-off home run can transform players into heroes. At other times, it can propel teams to a World Series Championship. From Carlton Fisk in 1975, to David Freese in 2011, the walk-off home run remains the most exciting play in baseball.
Extra inning games, by nature, are dramatic. However, not even a weekday afternoon soap opera can compare to an extra inning game between the New Yankees and Boston Red Sox, where the winner advances to the World Series. As the game entered the bottom of the 11th inning, the tension at Yankee Stadium was at an all-time high. With knuckleballer, Tim Wakefield, on the mound, Aaron Boone dug into the batter’s box. For as long as baseball has existed, someone has said, “Never swing at the first pitch.” Boone ignored that advice and sent the first pitch he saw over the left field wall to send the Yankees to the World Series. Boone was an unlikely hero in a star-studded lineup. The Red Sox were left with a foul taste in their mouth, which lead to a historic rematch in the 2004 ALCS.