The Subway Series had once been a concept that defined baseball, especially in the late 1940s and through much of the 1950s. That was when the Dodgers and Giants joined the Yankees as New York’s teams. When the former two teams moved west, the Subway Series stopped, even as the Mets became the Big Apple’s second team and eventually started producing contenders. In the 2000 World Series, the Yankees and Mets finally found their way to play each other in the Fall Classic. The first Subway Series since 1956 ended with the Yanks capturing a third straight championship.
The links below include articles that show how both the Yankees and Mets worked their way through the regular season, qualified for the postseason and who their key players were. There are also game-by-game narratives of their victories in the Division Series and League Championship Series. This article will focus exclusively on the games of the 2000 World Series.
Homefield advantage in the World Series, from 2003-16, was determined by which league won the All-Star Game. That was the American League this year, so Yankee Stadium was the venue for the first two games.
Game 1 was a battle of good lefthanded starters, Andy Pettitte for the Yankees against Al Leiter for the Yanks. And both were sharp on this Saturday night. No one even threatened until the fifth inning. That was when the Mets started missing some opportunities. A leadoff double by Benny Agbayani went to waste. In the top of the sixth, Timo Perez hit a leadoff single, that was followed by a double from Zeile. But Perez was thrown out at the plate.
So, we were still scoreless when the Yankees broke through in the bottom of the sixth. Jose Vizcaino started the inning with an infield hit and was bunted up to second. After Derek Jeter walked, Dave Justice slashed an opposite field double to left to score both runs for a 2-0 lead.
The Mets kept applying their own pressure in the top of the seventh, and this time they cashed in. With one out, Agbayani and Jay Payton singled. A walk loaded the bases and Bubba Trammell’s single to left scored two runs and tied the game.
There were still runners on first and second. Perez bunted and though he was out, the runners moved to second and third. Pettitte was removed, but when Edgardo Alfonzo legged out an infield hit, the Mets got the go-ahead run.
Still leading 3-2 in the top of the ninth, the Mets had a chance to add on when they put runners on second and third with one out against Mariano Rivera. Neither Perez nor Alfonso could deliver the run. It was another missed opportunity.
Even though the Mets could have had a comfortable lead, a win is a win, and they were just three outs away, with closer Armando Benitez on the mound. With one out, Paul O’Neill came to the plate. In an epic 10-pitch battle, O’Neill worked a walk. This might be called The Walk Heard ‘Round The World, because New York fans on both sides of the aisle remember the battle, and the obvious frustration of Benitez to this day. That’s because Luis Polonia and Vizcaino singled to load the bases and a sac fly from Chuck Knoblauch tied the game.
In extra innings, it was the Yankees’ turn to miss some chances. They had the bases loaded with no one out in the bottom of the 10th. But Tino Martinez popped out, and O’Neill grounded into a double play. In the bottom of the 11th, the bases were loaded with two outs, but Glenallen Hill flied out.
The bottom of the 12th saw the Yanks loaded the bases again, this time with one out. When Luis Sojo popped up, Yankee fans had to wonder if they could ever get the winning run. The answer was yes—Vizcaino singled to left and a classic Game 1 was over, with a 4-3 Yankee win.
Sunday night’s Game 2 was a highly anticipated affair. Roger Clemens was on the mound for the Yanks. Back in July, when these teams met during interleague play, Clemens had beaned the Mets’ star catcher Mike Piazza, who had be taken to a hospital for examination. Piazza would refuse to take a call from Clemens and the bad blood between the Yankee starter and the Mets was a national story. What would happen now that they were facing each other again?
It didn’t take a long for an answer. Piazza came to the plate in the top of the first. He fouled a pitch off and his bat was sawed in half. A part of the bat came out toward the mound. Clemens picked it up and flung it at Piazza. The benches emptied, although no punches were thrown.
For much of the game, that would be the most exciting thing that would happen. Clemens, fresh off a brilliant one-hitter in the ALCS, was sharp again here in Game 2. He tossed eight innings of two-hit ball. And he was staked to an early lead. In the bottom of the first, Justice and Bernie Williams worked two-out walks. Tino Martinez and Jorge Posada singled and it was 2-0.
In the bottom of the third, a Scott Brosius homer extended the lead to 3-0. Two more runs in the seventh and another in the eighth seemed like overkill in making it 6-0. But it turned out the Yankees would need all of those runs.
Alfonzo opened the Met ninth with a base hit off reliever Jeff Nelson. Piazza homered. Robin Ventura singled. Mariano Rivera came out of the Yankee bullpen. Agbayani singled. With two outs, Jay Payton homered. Now it was 6-5. Rivera finally ended the game, striking out Kurt Abbot. The Bronx segment of this Subway Series was complete, at least its scheduled first installment, and the Yankees were halfway home to a third consecutive title.
The World Series went to Queens for the first time since 1986 on Tuesday night. Rick Reed was the man they Mets gave the ball to in this must-win game. Orlando “El Duque” Hernandez, a trusted veteran of manager Joe Torre, was the Yankee starter.
Ventura homered in the bottom of the second to give the Mets a 1-0 lead, but the Yankees immediately tied it back up in the top of the third. Jeter singled to left with two outs and scored on a double from Justice. The Yanks took the lead in the top of the fourth when Martinez singled to right and then scored on a one-out triple from O’Neill. With the pitcher having to bat in the National League park, El Duque’s efforts to squeeze didn’t work and Reed was able to keep the Mets within 2-1.
The 2-1 Yankee lead held until the sixth. With the pressure growing, the Mets made a move and it started with Piazza. The catcher doubled. After Ventura walked, Zeile doubled. It was 2-2, there were runners on second and third and still no one out.
With a chance to get the lead, the Mets again missed an opportunity. Payton and Mike Bordick both struck out, allowing El Duque to escape with the 2-2 tie still holding.
That was still the score in the bottom of the eighth, when Zeile hit a one-out single and then scored the go-ahead run on a double from Agbayani. An infield hit and sac fly gave the Mets the key insurance run they hadn’t gotten in Game 1. When Knoblauch opened the top of the ninth with a single, that extra run and 4-2 lead must have felt good for Benitez. This time, the closer sealed the deal, getting the next three batters, including Jeter and Justice. The Mets were back in this Series.
Denny Neagle was the Yankee starter in Game 4, facing Bobby Jones for the Mets. But the story of this game would be one Derek Sanderson Jeter. The future Hall of Fame shortstop hit the first pitch of the game for a home run. In the top of the third, Jeter hit a leadoff triple and scored. In between, in the top of the second, O’Neill tripled and scored.
Neagle was staked to a 3-0 lead, but Piazza got two of those runs back when he followed a Perez single with a big home run. In the bottom of the fifth Piazza came to the plate again. Respect for the Met catcher was such, that with two outs and no one on base, Torre pulled Neagle and went to veteran David Cone. Piazza popped out.
The decision to pull Neagle one out from being able to get an official win in a World Series game rankled the Yankee starter, but Torre’s decision to pull out all the stops to keep the lead was vindicated. The Yankees wouldn’t score, or even threaten again. But neither would the Mets. The Yankee bullpen combination of Nelson, Mike Stanton, and of course, Rivera, closed out the last four innings, allowing just two hits and never allowing the tying run to even get in scoring position. The Yanks had won the game 3-2, they led the Series 3-1, and were on the brink.
Game 5 was a Pettitte-Leiter rematch and, like the opener, it was a well-pitched game. The Yankees drew first blood with a solo blast from Williams in the top of the second. The Mets rallied in the bottom of that same inning. A walk, a Payton single, and productive groundball set up runners on second and third.
There was still two outs and with Leiter at the plate, Pettite was in good position to get out of the jam. But the Yankee starter flubbed a bunt. A run scored. The inning continued and an infield hit added another run. It was a soft rally, but a productive one nonetheless. The Mets led 2-1.
Jeter delivered again in the sixth with a game-tying home run. Again, the Mets responded to a solo homer with an immediately rally. They again put runners on second and third with two outs. But this time, they didn’t cash it in. Pettitte got Agbayani to ground it and the score stayed 2-2.
Another taut game went to the late innings as low-scoring and in doubt. The 2-2 tie held to the top of the ninth. Leiter struck out the first two batters. Posada worked a walk to keep the inning alive. Brosius singled. Sojo came to the plate.
The Yankee infielder had gotten a number of key hits during this postseason and none was bigger than this one. A seeing-eye groundball got by Leiter and snuck through to center. Posada scored. The throw home got away and Brosius scored. The Yankees had a 4-2 lead and could entrust the final three outs of this 2000 World Series to the incomparable Rivera.
Agbayani drew a one-out walk and both Alfonzo and Piazza got cracks as the tying run. Both men flew out and the Yankees were champs again.
Derek Jeter was a deserving choice as the 2000 World Series MVP. His 9-for-22 performance was good, but even more impressive was the impact of those hits. His Game 4 home run had set the tone for the most critical game of the Series. O’Neill went 9-for-19 and had certainly left his mark on this Series as well. And Mike Stanton’s work out of the bullpen should not be overlooked. In a Series where every game was close and fairly low-scoring, Stanton appeared in four games and threw 4 1/3 innings of perfect baseball.
On the Met side, Zeile met the moment, going 8-for-20. Payton was 7-for-21. Piazza went 6-for-22 with a couple home runs. And Leiter had pitched extremely well in two starts, victimized only by a blown save in Game 1 and a hard-luck loss in Game 5.
Of the great Yankee teams that won four World Series and five American League pennants from 1996-2001, this 2000 team was the least impressive, both on paper and in terms of regular season wins. What they were was a vivid example of the value of championship experience. This had been true the entire postseason and was certainly evident in this Series. The games were close, but the Yankees were the team that consistently found a way to get the key hit or the big out. They completed the first three-peat in major league baseball since the Oakland A’s run from 1972-74.