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Final Chapter 1

Final Chapter 1

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Published by Sam Bowles

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Published by: Sam Bowles on Jul 05, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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It was a crisp, cool, fall evening on October 9th at Yankee Stadium as theBaltimore Orioles took on the New York Yankees in Game One of the AmericanLeague Championship Series (ALCS). Scott Erickson held the Yankees to 3 runsover 6 and a third innings and with home runs from Brady Anderson and RafaelPalmeiro, the Orioles led the Yankees 4-3 headed into the eighth. ArmandoBenitez, a powerful right-hander from the Dominican Republic came on to pitchthe eighth and tried to preserve the lead for Orioles’ closer, Randy Myers.After striking out Yankees’ catcher Jim Leylitz for the first out of theinning, Benitez faced the Yankees’ rookie shortstop, Derek Jeter. On the first pitch of the at bat, Jeter hit a lofty fly ball to deep right field. Orioles’ right-fielder, Tony Tarasco went back to the wall, appeared to have a bead on the balland was preparing to make a catch for the second out of the inning. Just as the ball was coming down towards Tarasco’s glove, the Yankees received a littlemagic in the form of a 12-year-old fan. Jeffrey Maier, a young Yankee fan fromOld Tappan, New Jersey, reached over the right field fence and snagged the ball,making it disappear into the crowd. Immediately, right field umpire Rich Garciasignaled that the ball had gone over the fence and awarded Jeter a home run.Despite heated arguments from both Tarasco and Orioles’ manager DaveyJohnson, Garcia’s ruling was upheld and the game was tied. The Oriolesmanaged to get out of the rest of the inning, only to end up losing on another home run. This time there was no controversy; Bernie Williams hit a walk ofhomer against Randy Myers to lead off the bottom of the 11
and the Yankees1
took the first game of the series.The Orioles came back to win the second game; however, they lost thenext three at home and lost the series four games to one. After that first game,umpire Rich Garcia admitted that he had made a mistake and that the hit by Jeter should not have been a home run. He still remained confident that Tarasco wouldnot have caught the ball, but a base hit would not have tied the game for theYankees. The Yankees went on to win the World Series against the AtlantaBraves that year and have made the playoffs every year since. They won threeWorld Series in a row from 1998-2000 and have been American LeagueChampions five times since 1996. On the other hand, the Baltimore Oriolesfinished the next year as American League East Champions, only to lose onceagain in the ALCS, and have not made any post-season appearances since. Infact, they have had ten consecutive losing seasons since 1998.Would history be different if Garcia had made the proper call in right fieldon that night in October? Would the Orioles have gone on to win the WorldSeries that year and maybe a few more in the years following? Would theYankees be the team to struggle for the next ten years? All of these questions areimpossible to answer but they all stem from one historic moment. A home runthat brought joy, excitement, and future success to one franchise, brought sadness,defeat, and, perhaps, a decade of losing to another. How can one play in onegame take on such a large meaning? While not every home run is loaded with thehistory and questions associated with Jeter’s in 1996, the ones that are, live onforever whether their legacy is heroic or controversial.2
This project will examine the importance of the home run in baseball andAmerican society. Baseball is considered “America’s Pastime,” and at the heartof the modern game is the home run. Home runs have profoundly changed thegame. Further, they have also influenced larger issues in American society and insome instances, captured the attention of the entire nation. From Babe Ruth toBarry Bonds, inside the park home runs to long drives over the “Green Monster,”home runs have changed the game of baseball and brought both excitement andcontroversy.
History of the Home Run
With all the media attention that is placed on sports in America, much has been written about baseball and the home run. There are numerous biographies of home run hitters and many books and articles devoted to the home run. BillGutman’s book,
 It’s Outta Here! A History of the Home Run from Babe Ruth to Barry Bonds,
is a very good source. Gutman provides
a thorough overview of thehistory of professional baseball, effectively highlighting the importance of thehome run. Gutman analyzes the history of the home run from the dead ball erato the current steroid era of the game. His book is filled with many facts andother important details that allow the reader to understand the importance thehome run has had on the game.Gutman claims that the home run is, “the singularly most dramatic,anticipated, and revered moment in the sport.”
One swing of the bat can be
Bill Gutman,
 It’s Outta Here! The History of the Home Run from Babe Ruth to Barry Bonds
(Lanham, MD: Taylor Trade Publishing, 2005), 2.3

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