As we continue to recount some of the marquee moments in the career of David Wright, let’s shift to one in which the New York Mets Captain ditched the traditional blue and orange for none other than the red, white, and blue. Flashback to 2009, when David Wright wore #4 as a member of the United States National Team in the World Baseball Classic.
The 2009 World Baseball Classic
The inaugural WBC of 2006 did not go as planned for the United States. With high expectations looming, the United States scratched and clawed to a 1-2 record, failing to advance to the elimination rounds despite a star-studded team. Stars like Roger Clemens, Alex Rodriguez, Johnny Damon, Ken Griffey Jr., Michael Young, and Mark Teixeira (to name of few) could not power USA forward. Instead of celebrating on the winners podium, American baseball had to watch from the sidelines while Japan claimed the inaugural title.
Three years later, the United States returned, seeking vengeance. A team that had just as much star power as its predecessor faced immense pressure to outdo the 2006 team and advance to the elimination round. While Venezuela swept through their opening round schedule (with a perfect record), both the United States and Puerto Rico found themselves with matching records. This resulted in the two nations playing in a winner-take-all elimination game. The prize? A seat in the 2009 World Baseball Classic semifinals, something USA fans desperately craved after a disappointing 2006.
March 17, 2009: United States of America vs. Puerto Rico
The game inched forward like a marathon. Neither starting pitcher made it past the 4th inning. Fourteen pitchers would toe the rubber between the two teams. Entering the bottom of the ninth inning, the United States found themselves trailing Puerto Rico by a score of 5-3. J.C. Romero came in for the save, but quickly gave way to Fernando Cabrera after surrendering two singles and walk. Kevin Youkilis would then draw a walk off Cabrera to trim the lead to 5-4.
Captain America Strikes
With the bases loaded and the winning run on second, David Wright came to the plate. Wright already was having a strong day at the plate, with two hits in three at-bats, but this was an opportunity to cement his legacy as a member of USA baseball. With the count at 2-1, Fernando Cabrera delivered a pitch on the outside corner that Wright drove the other way into the shallow right field. He hit it hard enough to get out to the outfield, but soft enough to allow two runs to score on the play.
The USA had walked off in Miami, winning their first elimination game in World Baseball Classic history. David Wright had just sent home six of his Mets teammates playing for Puerto Rico (Carlos Delgado, Carlos Beltran, Pedro Feliciano, Alex Cora, Nelson Figueroa, and Jesus Feliciano), but it was well worth it. While the US would go on to lose to the eventual champions in Japan in the elimination, this moment had forever cemented David Wright’s legacy, earning him the nickname “Captain America”.
If you haven’t already, check out the rest of the articles in this series: