Leaving It All On The Field

September 23, 2013 – Two days after announcing that the 2013 season would be his last, Andy Pettitte took the mound at Yankee Stadium for the final time.

As if the day wasn’t already emotional enough with the once-in-a-lifetime celebration for Mariano Rivera (see blog entry below), Sept. 22 became more special with every pitch Pettitte tossed.

As Pettitte sat down every San Francisco Giants batter that came to the plate during the first five innings of the game, the atmosphere at Yankee Stadium became suspenseful. From my seat in the press box, all the chatter I heard centered around one question: Could Pettitte really throw a perfect game in his final Yankee Stadium appearance?

While Yankee Stadium has been the site of so many incredible feats, the thought of the 41-year-old Pettitte, who has admittedly battled the effects of Father Time this season, and who only has only made it through eight innings one time this season (April 4 vs. Boston), was too good to be true.

Maybe I’m too unrealistic or emotional, but because of the way Pettitte was battling each hitter and because of the determined spirit I’ve seen him take to the hill for more than a decade, I felt as if he was going to accomplish the feat of perfection.

That dream came to an end with two outs in the fifth inning when Pettitte walked Pablo Sandoval. An inning later, a no-hit bid went away when Ehire Adrianza hit a game-tying solo home run off the legendary lefty.

After Pettitte retired the Giants in order during the seventh inning, he gave up a leadoff double to Sandoval in the eighth. A few seconds later, Joe Girardi make the slow walk to the mound to get Pettitte.

At first glance, Pettitte’s exit was a bittersweet moment. Although he was getting a heart-felt ovation from the sold-out crowd, he was coming out the game after losing a key battle in a big spot – in a game that the Yankees would ultimately be defeated in.

But as the ovation continued and Pettitte pumped his fist, tipped his cap and wrapped his arms around his longtime friend and teammate Derek Jeter at the top step of the dugout, I quickly realized that there was nothing about that moment that was anything but joyous.

In its truest form, Pettitte had put together an effort for the ages. If ever a guy had left it all on the field, Pettitte did just that in his last game at the Stadium. Pettitte’s final line read: 7-plus innings pitched, 2 earned runs, 1 walk and 6 strikeouts. Even the most loyal fans will soon forget those numbers. But what won’t ever leave the minds of the Yankees faithful is Pettitte’s will to win his last game in New York and every game that came before Sept. 22, 2013.

–Alfred Santasiere III



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