October 13, 1998
Yankees 9, Indians 5 (ALCS Game 6)
My senior year of college I roomed with a friend, who shall go by the name of Frank Liscapital. Frank, because his first name was Frank. Liscapital wasn’t his real last name, but he was memorialized in our college yearbook because the word “Liscapital” was added via hyphen to his last name because of his insistence that the ‘L’ in his last name was capitalized.
Frank Liscapital was a good guy, with one failing- he was a Mets fan, and just as much an obnixous Mets fan as I was an obnixous Yankees fan. While the Mets didn’t have much to be excited about in the ’98 season, he was a huge Mike Piazza fan, and we had constant debates over who would have the better career from that point forward, Piazza, or Yankee flash-in-the-pan Shane Spencer. I can admit it today, but Frank won that debate. He repeatedly told me that summer and fall that it was “only a matter of time” before the Yankees’ historic season ended. And in the ALCS, he was close to right.
The Yankees won game one against the Cleveland Indians, but lost games two (at home) and three (in Cleveland), and for a few days, Yankees fans were nervous. It looked like for the second straight year, the Yankees would fall in the postseason to the Tribe, a team in the midst of a great run of its own. The Yankees won games four and five in Cleveland, sending it back to the Bronx for the possible clincher on a Tuesday night.
My father called me at school that afternoon to tell me he had tickets (through the Sunday plan) and my stepmother wouldn’t let my brother go to a baseball game on a school night, playoffs or not. I first called my friend Jon, but he had prior commitments. I figured that Mets fan or not, Liscapital might enjoy the game, so I asked him and he said he would meet my father and I in the parking lot when his shift at the radio station was over.
Liscapital and I hopped in the car, and we went with my father to the stadium. My father and I were decked out in Yankees apparel. But Liscapital presented a problem. He was wearing a jacket over a t-shirt. The jacket was buttoned up all the way, but one versed in such things could clearly tell that the t-shirt was a Mets t-shirt (a Piazza name-and-number shirt). We didn’t expect it to be much of a problem. Until we got to the stadium, and a few fans heckled Frank for the half-inch of Mets logo that peeked out from the top of his jacket.
Frank had never been to the stadium, so I showed him around. We were on the field level, when he started waving to someone down on the field. He told me that one of the walkie-talkie guys on the field was a coach of some sort at his high school and had talked of working for the Yankees in his free time. I think I said something like “well, if you know him, you should have called so he could have gotten us on the field.” Frank laughed it off and we quickly found our seats.
The crowd was crazy that night. A few of the Cleveland players had made disparaging comments about the Yankees and the Bronx while the series was in Cleveland a few nights earlier, and the Yankees fans weren’t about to let them forget it. Instead of hanging hand-drawn K’s after a strikeout, fans in the upper deck hung pictures of hand drawn UZIs. As Indian (and future Yankee) David Justice stepped to the plate, the stadium erupted in chants of “Hal-le-Ber-ry,” his recent ex-wife.
And that pretty much set the tone for the whole night. Despite giving up five runs in five innings, David Cone pitched a solid game, striking out eight and leaving the game with the Yankees holding a 6-5 lead. While the crowd was nervous, the Yankees scored three in the bottom of the sixth to give them some insurance. The Yankees held on until the ninth, when Mariano Rivera sealed up a 9-6 win that sent the Yankees to the World Series. Dad, Frank and I hung around the stadium, me hoping that I’d get a chance to go to one of the World Series games (I would, but that’s another entry) and Frank probably hoping that his Mets shirt would go unnoticed.
As we left the stadium, we bumped into that guy Frank knew, who actually was some bigwig with stadium security. The guy told us something to the effect of “Frank, it’s great to see you! You should have given me a call–I could have let you and your friends down on the field before the game.”