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Did The Tribe Win Last Night? | November 20, 2014

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Everyone Homers But A-Rod Reunited In Cleveland

By Vince Guerrieri

Seeing Johnny Damon and Shelley Duncan reunited again takes me back to the summer of 2007, and one of the most unforgettable baseball games I’ve ever seen.

I got married that fall (I know, I’m just as surprised by that as you are). My brother Adam was going to be my best man, and I determined that he needed to see Yankee Stadium. Adam, for reasons I can’t fully understand, is a Yankees fan. I think it’s because of brain damage that can be traced back to when I fed him PicturePages as a baby.

I had been to New York City a couple times before, and told Adam it was his party. I wanted to do two things: Eat dinner at a restaurant where a gangster got killed (Umberto’s Clam House, where Crazy Joe Gallo met his end after dining with, among others, actor Jerry Orbach) and visit the carousel formerly located at Idora Park on the South Side of Youngstown. The carousel had been bought and painstakingly restored, and at the time was at a warehouse in Brooklyn. (It’s now on display in a pavilion in Brooklyn Bridge Park: janescarousel.com)

The game we attended was on July 31, 2007. The Yankees unveiled the logo for the All-Star Game that would be played there in 2009, the last year for the old stadium. Jose Contreras got the nod for the Pale Hose, and Mike Mussina got the start for the Yankees.

It was a warm night in the South Bronx, and everyone was having a good time. We were sitting just inside fair territory in left field on the first level. Alex Rodriguez was sitting on 499 home runs, and everyone in the section was abuzz, hoping they’d catch his 500th home run. The beer vendor heckled me for buying a beer for me but not for Adam (he doesn’t drink. “I do enough goofy shit when I’m sober,” he says). It was going to be a good time.

The Sox went down in order in the top of the first, and manager Ozzie Guillen got tossed. Damon led off with a double for the Yankees in the bottom of the first, and Derek Jeter singled. There were runners at the corners for Bobby Abreu (who I thought would also be a member of the Tribe this year), who promptly launched a ball into the right-field seats. The Yankees took a 3-0 lead. Rodriguez came up next, and as thousands of flashes went off as people took pictures, flied out to the track in right field. Next up was Hideki Matsui, who crushed a ball into the bleachers in the right field power alley.

“It’s ‘Everyone homers but A-Rod’ night!” I said. As it turns out, I was right.

Juan Uribe hit a three-run home run for the Sox in the top of the second. It was the only scoring they could muster that night.

In the bottom of the third, Contreras gave up a three-run home run to Robinson Cano, and hit the showers. He was replaced by Charlie Haeger, who gave up a two-run home run to Melky Cabrera.

In the bottom of the fourth, Jorge Posada hit a two-run home run off Haeger, putting the Bombers up 11-3. In the bottom of the sixth, Matsui hit his second home run of the night. “There was no pressure in my at bats,” he was quoted as saying in Sports Illustrated the next week. “Everybody was in the bathroom.”

Damon led off the home half of the seventh with a home run, and Abreu was lifted that inning.

“Now batting for the Yankees,” the legendary Bob Sheppard intoned over the PA system, “number 17, Shelley Duncan. Number 17.”

My brother, the Yankees fan, looked at me and said, “Who the hell is Shelley Duncan?”

“I think he played Peter Pan on Broadway,” I said.

The guy behind me, who either didn’t like the joke or thought I was serious, said, “That’s Sandy Duncan, you asshole!”

And then Shelley Duncan homered. In all, the Yankees hit eight home runs, tying a club record set in 1939. But that day, six players homered. Joe DiMaggio and Babe Dahlgren each hit two, and Bill Dickey, George Selkirk, Joe Gordon and Tommy Henrich each hit one.

This time, a total of seven Yankees went yard. And none of them was Alex Rodriguez, who went 0-for-5, the only Yankee not to even get on base that night.