| ||NEW YORK -- Actually, Chad Curtis makes perfect sense when you think
about it. Even if your reasoning is no more complicated than,
say, "Why not Chad Curtis?"
He is, after all, the forgotten Yankee, the Yankee without a
made-for-TV story other than his vanishing playing time. He is the
Yankee who watched while his teammates danced and sang and threw cheap
champagne on each other a year ago. He is the Yankee who didn't
play in Game 1 because Tom Glavine got sick.
So maybe the best question is actually an answer, as in: "Of course Chad Curtis."
Curtis joined that ultra-short list of World Series heroes who got
that way with a walk-off homer, in this case a leadoff homer in the
bottom of the 10th off Atlanta reliever Mike Remlinger. It was your
standard 1-1 hanging something or other, Curtis turned on it and yanked
it maliciously into the left-field bleachers, giving the Yanks a 6-5 win
and a 3-0 lead in the Grab-Your-Keys-Honey-We're-Goin'-Home World
And suddenly, the man who remembered the '98 sweep of San Diego as
the one where, "I felt I was congratulating my teammates instead of
celebrating with them," was the center of the celebration itself.
|Yankee players wait to greet Chad Curtis at home plate after his game-winning home run.|
Indeed, Curtis had played most of the regular season in '98 but
watched as Ricky Ledee and Shane Spencer played in the Series, and
watched some more in the regular season this year. He was becoming that
afterthought no major league player ever thinks he will ever become.
He even was scratched from Game 1 because he is the Yankee left
fielder against left-handed pitchers, and when Glavine turned into Greg
Maddux, Curtis turned into a spectator. Curtis, to the surprise of nobody, was
But not so unhappy that he couldn't see the moment being forced
upon him. The Yankees had spotted the Braves a quick fiver (Andy
Pettitte turned in a dismal effort, the first by a Yankees pitcher in
this Series), but solo shots by Curtis and Tino Martinez, and a two-run
nailbiter by Chuck Knoblauch in the bottom of the eighth had tied the
At that point, everyone knew the Yankees were a mortal lock to win.
They can see an opponent's carotid artery in a dark room, blindfolded
and wearing a Halloween mask backward. The only questions were who, and
The answers were: Curtis, and soon. He hit Remlinger's pitch, left
fielder Gerald Williams turned around after about two steps, and Curtis
suddenly entered Walk-Off World.
"I've never hit one in the regular season," he said. "I've never
hit a walk-off home run. And I've heard about people talk about
tingling. I've never felt that before. But I think somewhere between
second and third I felt like there was electricity running through my
legs. You're rounding third base and coming home, and you see all your
teammates there waiting for you in a World Series game. It was a big
Yes, but not a big surprise. Even Atlanta manager Bobby Cox, trying
to find something that would dull the pain behind his eyes, said, "It's
always somebody you don't expect ... you never know where it's going
to come from."
Only that it's coming, and that it's really going to hurt.
Ray Ratto of the San Francisco Examiner is a regular contributor to ESPN.com.
LAST AT-BAT HEROES
Players who ended World Series games with home runs with game number, inning and final score:
Tommy Henrich, New York Yankees vs. Brooklyn, 1949, Game 1, 9th,
Dusty Rhodes, New York Giants vs. Cleveland, 1954, Game 1, 10th,
Eddie Mathews, Milwaukee vs. New York Yankees, 1957, Game 4,
Bill Mazeroski, Pittsburgh vs. New York Yankees, 1960, Game 7,
9th, 10-9 (won Series).
Mickey Mantle, New York Yankees vs. St. Louis, 1964, Game 3,
Carlton Fisk, Boston vs. Cincinnati, 1975, Game 6, 12th, 7-6.
Kirk Gibson, Los Angeles vs. Oakland, 1988, Game 1, 9th, 5-4.
Mark McGwire, Oakland vs. Los Angeles, 1988, Game 3, 9th, 2-1.
Kirby Puckett, Minnesota vs. Atlanta, 1991, Game 6, 11th, 4-3.
Joe Carter, Toronto vs. Philadelphia, 1993, Game 6, 9th, 8-6 (won Series).
Chad Curtis, New York Yankees vs. Atlanta, 1999, Game 3, 10th,
Curtis' heroics caps Yankees' rally in Game 3
Braves talk softly after tough loss
Key at-bat: Knoblauch goes deep
Chad Curtis walks us through the 10th inning walk-off HR.
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Mike Remlinger talks about giving up the game-winning HR.
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Chad Curtis says he was happy to help his team win.
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