What #27 Means to Me

I was 11 in 1996 when the Yankees won their first World Series in my lifetime.  I went to bed before the game was over, but my parents woke me up in time for the bottom of the ninth inning.  I vividly remember a pop-up in foul territory on the third base side… Charlie Hayes hovering under the ball… Joe Buck exclaiming “The Yankees are champions of baseball” and the camera cutting to John Wetteland on the mound, holding one finger in the air, getting mobbed by teammates.  It was thrilling.

The Yanks would go on to win three more titles – all in a row – from 1998 to 2000.  I got used to winning.  What kid wouldn’t?  I stopped getting championship hats and I stopped begging to stay up for playoff games.  It stopped being special to me.

From 2001 to 2008, the Yanks made two World Series and lost both.  They were eliminated in the ALDS several times and humiliated by the Red Sox in the 2004 ALCS after being up three games to none.  During this time, I started getting hungry for a championship again.  I had been spoiled by the four early titles in my lifetime and I wanted another.

This year, my love of the Yankees saw a new level.  I followed the team every single day.  I read the blogs, kept up on the transactions and lineup changes.  They were my team.  There were no blogs in the late 90s, so with this evolution in media, I was able to keep up with the team in a whole new way.  I also went to Opening Day for the first time since 1996, albeit in a different stadium.  I watched every playoff game and nearly every inning.  I was more nervous for this year’s playoffs than for anything else in the history of my fanhood.  I knew this was the Yankees’ year and I didn’t want to see them fail.  I loved this team… the pies, the salutes, the comebacks, everything.

As the bullpen door opened and Mariano Rivera jogged out in the 8th inning of game six, I set my Tivo, knowing that this was the beginning of the end.  I put on a jersey and hat and prepared a bottle of champagne.  I smiled, yelled, and jumped up and down as Joe Buck said “The Yankees are back on top” (pretty weak, if you ask me).  I watched every minute of the celebration and celebrated with the players.  The announcers made a big deal out of the nine years it took for Derek Jeter, Andy Pettitte, Jorge Posada, and Mariano Rivera to win the World Series again.  It was my nine years, too.

After being so used to winning, it was taken away from me for a while, but the absence of the World Series trophy in the Bronx made me appreciate this one so much more.  It was the first title of my “adulthood” and it was beyond exciting.  It was the perfect finish to a very special Yankee year.


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