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On This Date in Sports October 25, 2003: A Fishy World Series

In collaboration with the Sportsecyclopedia.com

The Florida Marlins stun the world beating the New York Yankees in six games to win the World Series, its centennial season. In the finale won 2-0 at Yankee Stadium, the Marlins get a brilliant outing from Josh Beckett who wins the MVP with a complete game shutout. It was the second championship for the Florida Marlins, who were in their 11th season.

It was assumed that the New York Yankees would easily win their 27th World Championship after their dramatic Game 7 comeback in the ALCS against the Boston Red Sox. The Yankees managed by Joe Torre were in the Fall Classic for the sixth time in eight years, winning four times. New York had posted a 101-61 record in the regular season. After beating the Minnesota Twins in the Division Series in four games, the Red Sox found themselves in the fight of their lives against the Boston Red Sox in the ALCS. Down 5-2 in the eighth inning of Game 7, the Yankees scored three runs off a tiring Pedro Martinez and won the game 6-5 in 11 innings on a walk-off home run by Aaron Boone against Tim Wakefield.

The Florida Marlins were not expected to get anywhere near the World Series, as they had just begun to emerge from the fire sale after the 1997 championship. The Marlins had gotten off to a 16-22 start, leading to the ouster of Manager Jeff Torborg, in favor of Jack McKeon. The 72-year-old McKeon seemed to find the right spark with his young team as they finished the season with a record of 91-71 and won the Wild Card in the National League. In the Division Series, the Marlins led by the play of Ivan Rodriguez stunned the San Francisco Giants in four games. In the NLCS, the Marlins were dominated by the Chicago Cubs, falling behind 3-1 after four games. After Josh Beckett kept them alive with a two-hitter in Game 5, Florida appeared to be down for the count, down 3-0 in the eighth inning of Game 6 at Wrigley Field. With one-out fortune smile on the Marlins, when Moises Alou a member of their 1997 could not catch a foul off the bat of Luis Castillo pop due to the interference of a fan named Steve Bartman. Castillo walked sparking an eight-run rally to force a seventh game. In Game 7 the Marlins would rally again, winning 9-6.

Brady Penny got the start for the Marlins in Game 1, as the World Series celebrated its 100th Anniversary at Yankee Stadium. The Yankees meanwhile had David Wells on the mound as they had a short turnaround from Boone’s Game 7 walk off. Juan Pierre and Luis Castillo started the game with back-to-back singles, helping to build a first-inning run on a sacrifice fly by Ivan Rodriguez. The Yankees battled back to tie the game on a single by Derek Jeter in the third. In the fifth, Pierre again sparked the Marlins driving in two runs with a single. The Yankees got a home run by Bernie Williams in the sixth, but could not get any closer as Florida won the opener 3-2.

Andy Pettitte got the start for New York in Game 2, as Mark Redman started for the Marlins. It did not take long for the Yankees to make noise, as Hideki Matsui hit a three-run homer in the first inning. Juan Rivera doubled home a run in the second inning. In the fourth, Alfonso Soriano hit a two-run shot to make it 6-0. Pettitte meanwhile came within one out of a complete game, as Derek Lee broke up the shutout as the Yankees won 6-1.

As the series shifted to what was then called Pro Player Stadium, the Marlins had Josh Beckett on the mound, while Mike Mussina got the start for the Yankees. The Marlins got an early run thanks to Miguel Cabrera, the Marlins 20-year old rookie who was one of their top players in the second half. New York tied the game in the fourth, as Beckett walked Jorge Posada with the bases loaded. The game remained tied until the eighth when Jeter chased Beckett with a one-out double. Jeter would come into score the go-ahead run on a single by Hideki Matsui against Rookie of the Year Dontrelle Willis. In the ninth, the Yankees padded their lead on a leadoff home run by Aaron Boone, and a three-run shot by Bernie Williams to win the game 6-1.

Roger Clemens got the start for the Yankees in Game 4, while Carl Pavano was on the mound for the Marlins. Clemens struggled in the first inning, allowing three runs, with a two-run home run by Miguel Cabrera and an RBI single by Derek Lee. The Yankees got a run back on a sac-fly by Boone in the second but still trailed 3-1 as the game went to the ninth inning. In the ninth with closer Uggie Urbina on the mound, Ruben Sierra hit a game-tying two-run triple, scoring Bernie Williams and pinch runner David Dellucci. The Yankees had a chance to take the lead in the 11th, but failed to score with the bases loaded as Braden Looper came in and struck out Boone and got John Flaherty to pop up to Mike Lowell at third. In the 13th inning, the Marlins would win the game 4-3, as Alex Gonzalez homered off Jeff Weaver.

In a rematch of Game 1, David Wells faced Brad Penny looking to get the advantage going back to the Bronx for Game 6. In a reversal of the opener, Derek Jeter and Enrique Wilson started the game with back-to-back singles, with Jeter scoring on a sac-fly by Bernie Williams. Wells meanwhile retired the Marlins in order in the first but was unable to continue as his back stiffened up. This forced Joe Torre to call upon Jose Contreras who had appeared in Game 4 to take the mound in the second inning. Contreras struggled as Florida put three runs on the board with Penny aiding his own cause with a two-run single. In the fourth, Juan Pierre added to the Marlins lead with a double, while Mike Lowell made it 6-1 with a two-run single in the fifth. Jeter drove home a run for the Yankees in the seventh, while Jason Giambi homered in the ninth. The Yankees also got an RBI double from Wilson but could draw no closer as Urbina got a groundout by Matsui to win the game 6-4.

Looking to win the World Series, the Marlins had Josh Beckett on the mound, while Andy Pettitte looked to force a seventh game as the series returned to Yankee Stadium. The game was scoreless until the fifth inning when the Marlins staged a two-out rally with three straight singles; with Luis Castillo knocking in the game’s first run. In the sixth, an error by Jeter on a grounder by Jeff Conine led to a second run on a sac-fly by Juan Encarnacion. Down 2-0, the Yankees could not get anything going against Beckett as they managed just five hits. With the Bronx in stunned silence, Beckett got a soft bouncer by Jorge Posada and made the tag himself to end the game and the World Series completing one of the biggest upsets in the history of the Fall Classic.