Starting tonight, the New York Yankees visit the Oakland Athletics and renew a compelling baseball rivalry. The Yankees, one of the most storied franchises in professional sports, bring to the Bay Area a team filled with All-Stars and the largest payroll in the league. The A’s spend a fraction of the Yankees’ budget and rely heavily on a corps of developing youngsters and rookies. However, the A’s are one of the surprise successes of the season while the Yankees are struggling in arguably the toughest division in baseball. Experts are expecting a large crowd for the three-game series, combining the numerous fans of the perennially-popular pinstripers and a small-but-loyal contingent of green and gold.
Fans on both sides will remember that one of the biggest plays in baseball history occurred in Oakland during a playoff game between the two teams. In October of 2001, the Yankees were defending three straight World Series titles, but had captured the spotlight of the nation in the wake of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. After losing the first two games of a five-game playoff series at home, the Yankees seemed doomed as they traveled out west. But in Game 3, the Yankees were clinging to a one-run lead when the A’s hit what seemed to be a game-tying triple. As the A’s’ Jeremy Giambi raced home, the throw in from the outfield went off-line, seemingly assuring the run. Unexpectedly, Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter had moved from his normal position and was able to reach the errant throw along the first-base line. Jeter flipped the ball to catcher Jorge Posada who tagged out Giambi, ending the A’s threat and shifting the momentum of the entire series. As with all great plays, the storylines were numerous: how did Jeter know where to play? why didn’t Giambi slide? did Posada miss the tag? In the end, the Yankees won the game, the series, provided an emotional lift to the city of New York, and “The Flip” became part of baseball legend.
This year is another emotional one for the Yankees, as they prepare to shutter Yankee Stadium, widely considered to be one of the greatest ballparks in history. Home to some of the most legendary players to ever take the field, Yankee Stadium has provided the backdrop to many significant historical moments and will be remembered by baseball fans forever. This year, many books dedicated to the memory of Yankee Stadium are appearing on bookshelves. One outstanding title you may want to check out is Memories of Yankee Stadium by Scott Pitoniak. Packed with interested facts and outlining the history of the park, Pitoniak has also collected personal anecdotes from many of the stars, both Yankees and opponents, who created their own unique history in the Bronx. You may also be interested to search for photos of Yankees and Yankee Stadium in our AP Images database, like the photo of the historic play above.