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The 2001 World Series Was a Historic One for Arizona

Four years after their inaugural season, the Arizona Diamondbacks would turn themselves into a contender. As they would head to the 2001 World Series, their first in franchise history. This happened to be their first franchise appearance. Arizona had a mighty opponent during the World Series, three-time defending champs, the New York Yankees. Both teams battled it out, and it took until the bottom of the ninth during Game 7 to declare a champion.

This World Series took place later than usual as a result of a delay in the regular season, stemming from the 9/11 attacks. Then president George W. Bush threw the ceremonial first pitch during Game Three. The D-Backs had an incredible campaign but faced a Yankees dynasted who had Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera and Roger Clemens. New York had the stars but Arizona had a superstar pitching duo like baseball has never seen before. Even before the Game 7 that made the 2001 World Series so memorable, it is still one for the ages.

2001 World Series Was One For the Ages

From Expansion to the Penant

Arizona finished the 2001 regular season with a 92-70 record with manager Bob Brenly at the helm. Several players put up strong statistics inclduing Curt Schilling, who had the most wins of any pitcher in baseball with 22. Meanwhile, Randy Johnson almost broke the single season strikeout record with 372. Luis Gonzalez ended the season hitting .325 with 57 home runs and finishing third in voting for the NL MVP Award.

Arizona the postseason as the second seed and went on to face the St. Louis Cardinals in the NLDS. Each team would take two games at home and two games on the road, to push a decisive game five. With the game tied at one apiece heading into the bottom of the ninth, the D-Backs needed a clutch performance. Shortstop Tony Womack delivered a walk-off single into left field, giving Arizona a 2-1 win, advancing to their frist NLCS against the Atlanta Braves.

Johnson threw a shutout in Game 1 while the Braves hit three home runs in Game 2. Schilling threw a complete game in Game 3 then the D-Backs scored 11 runs in Game 4 to take a 3-1 series lead. The D-Backs clinched the series in Game 5 courtesy of another strong performance from Johnson. They became the fastest expansion team to reach the Fall Classic in just their fourth year.

Yankees Head to Fourth World Series in a Row

The Yankees were in pursuit of a fourth consecutive World Series title, finishing with a 95-65 record. New York would have the second seed in the AL. New York defeated the fourth seeded Oakland Athletics in five games, and the top seeded Seattle Mariners four games to one in the ALCS. The Bronx Bombers took the first two games at Safeco Field, giving them hope to make this a quick and easy series. Back in New York, the Mariners blew out the Yankees 14-3 during game three. The Yankees responded back by winning game four 3-1, and game five 12-3, to advance to their fourth consecutive World Series.

The 2001 World Series Had Everything

A lot went on in this Fall Classic. The home team won every game in the series, which only happened in 1987 and 1991, both won by the Minnesota Twins. The D-Backs held the Yankees to just one run when they outscored them 13-1 to take the first two games at home. Game 3 was an emotional one with the Yankees finally getting a strong outing from Roger Clemens with a seven inning one-run ball performance. To even the series, New York had to solve Schilling before handing it over to the bullpens. Closer Byung-Hyun Kim went for an extended stint, which cost Arizona the game.

With two outs and Paul O’Neill at first base, first baseman Tino Martinez drilled a two-run home run into the center field bleachers. When it went into extra innings, the clock struck midnight on November. The first World Series game in November ended in the bottom of the tenth thanks to Jeter hitting an opposite-field homer for a 4-3 win.

Games 5 and 6

With momentum back in their favor, the Yankees handed the ball back to Mussina for Game 5 in the Bronx, and he did well to keep the D-backs to just two runs in eight innings while Miguel Batista threw 7 2/3 shutout frames. But New York trailed 2-0 in the ninth, and once again relied on some late drama. Brenly went with Kim again in the save situation, and he gave up a leadoff double to Posada. After retiring the next two batters, Kim surrendered another game-tying home run, to Brosius, as the game went to extras once more. The teams maintained their stalemate until the 12th, when Alfonso Soriano drove in Chuck Knoblauch with an RBI single and gave New York a 3-2 win and 3-2 series lead.

New York had momentum in their favor, taking a 3-2 win and a 3-2 series lead with them to Arizona. would also score two runs in the bottom of the ninth after being down 2-0. The Diamondbacks came back home and demolished the Yankees 15-2. It all came down to one final game. Nine more innings would decide the 2001 WS champion.

Arizona’s Game Seven Miracle


In game seven, New York gave the start to the 39-year-old Clemens. He became the oldest pitcher to start a game seven in the World Series. Arizona Johnson take the mound in the win-or-go-home event. At the top of the eighth, on an 0-2 count, Alfonso Soriano gave the Yankees the lead by thrashing a home run. During the next half inning, Joe Torre gave Mariano Rivera the reigns of the mound. Rivera had to close out the game by pitching a two-inning save. Mo came out of the gates storming as he struck out the side.

Arizona had one more opportunity to make something happen. In the bottom of the ninth, with runners at first and second, and with a 2-2 count, Tony Womack hit a double down the right-field line and earned Rivera his first blown save. After Rivera unintentionally hit Counsell with a 0-1 count, Gonzalez came up to the plate. He hit a soft single over the drawn-in Jeter, giving Jay Bell the winning run. Gonzalez’s heroics ended New York’s bid for a fourth consecutive title.

Since Arizona’s 2001 World Series Championship

The 2001 championship marks Arizona’s first and only major professional sports championship. Johnson won his third game of the series, while Rivera took the loss, his first and only postseason loss in his career. This also happened to be the second World Series in five years to end in a game-winning RBI. Edgar Renteria hit a game-winning RBI in 1997. Coincidentally, Craig Counsell was on the basepaths during Rentería and Gonzalez’s hit. No other World Series has ended in a game-winning RBI since 2001.


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