Joe Girardi’s triple in the bottom of the third, Charlie Hayes’s grab in foul ground to end it in the top of ninth, and Wade Boggs’s famous celebratory equestrian jaunt around the stadium. To say that the New York Yankees were late to the championship-winning party way back in 1996 is to underestimate just how long it had been since they had last held World Series gold. By ’96, New Yorkers had grown accustomed to winning. The New York Giants had won the Super Bowl in ’90, the Rangers had captured the Stanley Cup in ’94, and that same year the Knicks fell a three-pointer short of taking home the Walter A. Brown trophy. Hell, if you count New Jersey, the Devils won it all in ’95.
For a team that has always taken great pride in its winning traditions, the New York Yankees’ last World Series appearance had been back in ’81—and they hadn’t won it since ’78. Even the lowly Mets of Flushing had managed to eke out a World Series victory since then; their miracle in ’86 had been the last time the City That Never Sleeps had witnessed a World Series triumph.
By October, the listless Yankees of the past decade and a half were no longer. Led by Joe Torre, they won five come-from-behind playoff victories as World Series underdogs. Five rollercoaster games later, the Yankees were on the verge of winning their 23rd world championship. As Boggs’s steed would agree: the Yanks were back in the saddle again.