Roger Angell on the 2003 Yankees-Red Sox League Championship series
from: "Celebrating America's National Pastime / with Roger Angell and Larry Lucchino, moderated by Charles Gibson"
John F. Kennedy Library and Foundation
March 30, 2004 (link); see also this link to the recording of the event.
MR. ANGELL: I was going to talk about this game, but I was afraid to bring the subject up. [Laughter] You also have to remember, to be aware of the reaction of Red Sox fans. I hear a lot from Red Sox, I really do. Some friends of mine are Red Sox fans. Every one of them told me what happened when Grady left him in. They went out for walks, they fell inert on the floor, they screamed, they threw glasses. They knew he was done. Everybody knew but Grady Little.
I want to take a little moment here and talk about how strange baseball is because things always happen that we never expect. I wrote about that game and that series, and about two weeks afterwards, late in November, I got a letter from a fan in New York named Rick Peterson -- not the Mets pitching coach, another Rick Peterson -- who told me he’d been sitting in left field, deep left field in Yankee Stadium that night.
When Kevin Millar hit a solo home run out there in the fourth inning, the ball came flying out to where he was and it was caught by the guy right across the aisle from him. Oh, he almost caught it, but the guy across the aisle caught it and threw it back to the field; it was a Yankee fan. And he started talking to him, and this guy’s name, he said, was Judd Rothstein, a student at Columbia, and the man next to him was his father, a professor at Columbia. And Rick Peterson has a graduate degree from Columbia, so they established a connection there.
Rick Peterson’s wife was with him, a real Yankee fan, and she left after the seventh inning because she knew that they couldn’t win as long as she was there. [Laughter] So she had missed the fatal move, or no-move in the eighth, and the tying rally.
But he said in the 11th inning, several things happened. He said, "Aaron Boone swung at the ball and hit it, and I knew three things right away: the Yankees would win, the Red Sox would lose again, and this ball was coming directly to me into my hands."
And the ball flew out there and it was touched by Judd Rothstein, the guy who caught the Kevin Millar, he touched the second home run, and this guy, Rick Peterson, caught it up and doubled over, and he remembered what had happened to the guy in Chicago, and held on to the ball, and the game was over. He said he was arranging a reunion with Judd Rothstein so he could come and visit the ball. [Laughter] That’s almost the end of the story.
But I brought this letter home from my office and I was sitting at home reading it, and I look at the address and Rick Peterson lives [on] Madison Avenue. I live [nearby on] Madison Avenue, which meant that at that moment the ball was closer to me than it was when it landed in left field and I was in the auxiliary press box at Yankee Stadium.
Only in baseball. [Applause]