Historic homers mark Yankees
Bonds' 756th conjures up memories of Bombers blasts
NEW YORK -- Cemented as the most storied sports franchise in history, the New York Yankees are used to momentous events.
But if you felt a bit of a rumble when Barry Bonds eclipsed Hank Aaron with home run No. 756, it's probably because Monument Park shook in applause.
Like those hallowed memory plaques in center field at Yankee Stadium, Bonds' home run is something to be tucked away, remembered, replayed and relived. It also stages a nice reminder of all the Yankees' memorable homers throughout this past century.
The well of home run heroes in the Bronx runs deep, and no single homer could stand out as the One, the Unforgettable, the Undeniable.
"There are ... many," Yankees closer Mariano Rivera said. "Oh, so many. My goodness."
The Yankees have too many historic long balls to choose just one, and that's why the following list begins with the Yankees' most memorable homers of the past 10 years and works its way back through time:
Miracle Boone, Oct. 16, 2003: Before he had stared out toward Red Sox knuckleballer Tim Wakefield, before he had stepped into the batter's box and before he even took his warm up swings, Aaron Boone stuttered a minute as he readied himself in the Yankees dugout in the 11th inning of Game 7 of the 2003 American League Championship Series.
Manager Joe Torre had caught his attention.
Boone hadn't been able to muster up a decent at-bat the entire game, so Torre had a talk with the third baseman.
"I remember saying to Aaron before he went up to the plate against Wakefield ... 'Try to hit a single to right, and it doesn't mean you're not going to hit a home run,'" Torre said. "That's the last thing I said to him going up there. And the knuckleball just stayed right there and he hit it out of the ballpark. ... It was a wonderful feeling for me. Best single to right I've ever had."
The shot gave the Yankees a 6-5 victory and prolonged the Red Sox's Curse of the Bambino.
"That one was to win the series. So many, but I think that one is No. 1," Rivera said.
Yankees general manager Brian Cashman shared the same sentiment.
"Aaron Boone. Game 7. Win or go home," he said. "It's against a guy that was a Yankee killer, Wakefield. It was just unexpected. Boone had struggled since he had been acquired by us, and probably the least likely you'd expect to do it, and then all a sudden, boom -- it's over."
Leyritz's liftoff, Oct. 23, 1996 Known as a steady offensive player during the regular season, Jim Leyritz transformed when postseason play began. Leyritz, who mostly played catcher and some infield, hit a game-changing home run in Game 4 of the 1996 World Series vs. the Atlanta Braves at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium.
Facing a 6-0 deficit against the Braves, the Yankees rallied for three runs in the sixth. Then in the eighth inning, they put runners on the corners with one out and Leyritz coming to bat. Mark Wohlers, the Braves' 100-mph flame-throwing closer, was the pitcher.
After Leyritz fouled off one of Wohlers' fastballs straight back, the right-hander opted to try out his third-best pitch -- the slider -- against Leyritz.
You guessed it. The slider never reached the catcher's glove, and instead ended up over the left-field fence for a three-run homer and 6-6 tie. When the Yankees won Game 4, it became the greatest World Series comeback since 1929.
"Leyritz won the game," Yankees catcher Jorge Posada said. "It changed the whole series around."
Tough Rhodes for Justice, Oct. 17, 2000: With the Seattle Mariners ahead, 4-3, in Game 6 of the 2000 ALCS, left-hander Arthur Rhodes came on to face David Justice with two runners aboard in the seventh inning at Yankee Stadium.
Justice worked the count to 3-1 and then blasted a fastball into the upper deck in right field to give the Yankees a 6-4 lead. The stadium erupted and the Yankees went on to win, 9-7, to set up a Subway Series with the Mets.
"I don't think this place could get any louder," Cashman said. "That was a game we won because of [the homer], and we went on to the World Series and we won the World Series that year. We made it count. We made it stand up."
Tino slam, Oct. 17, 1998: With Mark Langston on the mound for San Diego in Game 1 of the 1998 World Series, Tino Martinez came up to bat shortly after the Yankees had tied the game in the seventh on a Chuck Knoblauch three-run homer.
Three more Yankees reached base that inning before Martinez came up to the plate, and the Yankees first baseman worked the count full. Martinez then smashed a grand slam to give the Yankees a four-run lead.
"It was important, a big one," Cashman said. "It set the tone for the rest of the series. We never looked back."
Fearsome threesome, Oct. 31 and Nov. 1, 2001: Martinez, Derek Jeter and Scott Brosius hit crucial home runs at Yankee Stadium while pitted against the Arizona Diamondbacks in the 2001 World Series.
The trio of home runs in Games 4 and 5 -- though not enough to push the Yankees on to another World Series championship -- rocked New York.
"Clearly, the home runs against the Diamondbacks in the 2001 World Series in the home games here [were very memorable]," Cashman said. "Jeter, Tino, Brosius. Again, I'm not sure if this place can get any louder."
More blasts from the past:
Reggie Jackson, 1977 World Series: Showing little patience but lots of power, Jackson hit three consecutive home runs on the first pitches he saw to beat the Dodgers in Game 6 at Yankee Stadium. By the time he had rounded the bases for his third homer, the crowd was chanting "Reggie!" "Reggie!" over and over.
Mickey Mantle, 1964: Mantle smashed the longest home run hit at Yankee Stadium, a 502-foot shot to center field off Ray Herbert. He would later hit a 565-foot blast at Griffith Stadium in Washington off Chuck Stobbs.
Roger Maris, 1961: Maris connected for his record-setting 61st home run off Red Sox pitcher Tracy Stallard in the season's final game.
Babe Ruth, 1932 World Series: Some say Ruth called his shot off Cubs pitcher Charlie Root, and ended up with two homers on the day.
Caleb Breakey is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.