15 years ago, Derek Jeter became ‘Mr. November’
Officially, the first-ever World Series game played in November was Game 5 of the 2001 World Series, which started the evening of Nov. 1. But Derek Jeter got a jump on things the night before.
Game 4 began around 8:30 p.m. local time in New York on Halloween. The Diamondbacks held a 2-1 lead over Jeter's Yankees after winning the first two games in Arizona and losing a nailbiter in Game 3 the night before. With the game tied at 1, the Diamondbacks broke through for two runs in the top of the eighth. With things seemingly well in hand, Arizona sent closer Byung-Hyun Kim to the mound in the eighth.
Kim had emerged late in the season as the Diamondbacks' regular closer, with 19 saves on the year against just two blown. He hadn't been needed in any of the first three games after two easy wins in Arizona and a loss the previous night. Making his World Series debut, Kim looked to have it under control, striking out the side in the eighth. In the ninth, though, the Yankees got to him. After Jeter led off by bunting into an out, Paul O'Neill singled to left. Bernie Williams then struck out swinging. Tino Martinez, the last hope for the Yankees, launched a two-run homer to right-center to tie the game.
The Yankees would put two more on in the ninth against Kim, but he got Shane Spencer to strike out to send the game into extra innings. After Arizona went feebly in the top half of the 10th, Kim returned to the mound for a third inning of work. He got two fly ball outs, and then it was time for Jeter again.
After the first pitch of Jeter's at-bat, the clock struck midnight at Yankee Stadium and the calendar officially turned to November 1. Eight pitches later, this happened:
Jeter hit one of his patented opposite-field shots and it carried inches over the wall in right field, a game-winning blast for the Yankees to tie the series at two games apiece. It was the first game action in Major League Baseball history to take place in November. As Jeter circled the bases, a fan held a sign that gave Jeter an apt nickname, playing off Reggie Jackson's “Mr. October”:
Here's Jeter's entire at-bat, complete with the midnight camera shot and the “Mr. November” call from Yankees announcer Michael Kay:
The reason for this Series dragging into November, of course, was a somber one. The terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, canceled baseball for a week, pushing the entire calendar back. The next night, in the first MLB game to start in the month of November, the Yankees won again in dramatic fashion, again scoring two off Kim in the ninth and then winning in the 12th. Back in Arizona, the Diamondbacks won the final two games — including getting the great Mariano Rivera to blow a save in Game 7 — to cap what many regard as the best World Series of all-time.
World Series games in November are not such a rare sight these days, with the advent of the wild-card games stretching the schedule. The Kansas City Royals clinched last year's title on Nov. 1 in Game 5. Game 6 of this year's World Series between the Cubs and Indians will take place Tuesday — Nov. 1 — with coverage starting on FOX at 7:30 p.m. ET.