World Series
Weekly lineup

 Wednesday, October 27
Frozen moment: Curtis gets his due
By Ray Ratto
Special to

 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.

Yankees celebrate
Yankee players wait to greet Chad Curtis at home plate after his game-winning home run.

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 Series.

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.

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, 1-0.
Dusty Rhodes, New York Giants vs. Cleveland, 1954, Game 1, 10th, 5-2.
Eddie Mathews, Milwaukee vs. New York Yankees, 1957, Game 4, 10th, 7-5.
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, 9th, 2-1.
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, 6-5.

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 unhappy.

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 game.

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 when.

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 thrill."

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

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.
avi: 749 k
RealVideo: 56.6 | ISDN | T1

 Mike Remlinger talks about giving up the game-winning HR.
wav: 235 k
RealAudio: 14.4 | 28.8 | 56.6

 Chad Curtis says he was happy to help his team win.
wav: 102 k
RealAudio: 14.4 | 28.8 | 56.6