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Jim Leyritz hits his shocking, Series-altering, three-run home run in Game 4 of the 1996 World Series.
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Jim Leyritz's "Key" Hit

After almost two decades without an appearance in the World Series, the 1996 New York Yankees, led by first year manager Joe Torre and rookie Derek Jeter, faced the always good Atlanta Braves. Games 1 and 2 were at Yankee Stadium and the Yankees were blown out of both games. It looked like the Series would be a rout for the Braves. The Yankees took Game 3, but fell behind after Game 4, which they lost 6-0.

The Series clearly appeared to be in Atlanta's favor until Jim Leyritz stepped up to the plate and ignited a new era in New York Yankees baseball. Amazingly, Leyritz was sure that he wasn't going to play and spent much of the game working out in the weight room. A startled Leyritz finally entered the game as a defensive replacement for Joe Girardi in the sixth inning after the Yankees had cut the deficit to 6-3. Braves Closer Mark Wohlers was given the call in the eighth by Bobby Cox to finish the job. After two runners reached base, Leyritz stepped into the box and worked the count to 2-2, fouling off two blistering fastballs in the process. The next swing sent a hanging slider over the wall for a three-run homer and Series-tying triumph. The Yankees went on to win the Series.

Most baseball analysts believe that the single at-bat was the key hit of the Series, if not the turning point for the franchise.

Here’s the actual “Key To The City” presented to Leyritz by New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani following the championship celebration in New York City. The gold colored key was modeled on the key made in 1812 for the door to City Hall in New York City. It has the New York City logo inlaid on the left. Across the body is embossed "Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani." I love the poetry of this piece: The Key to the City given to the guy who got the keyest of all hits, Jim Leyritz.


Related links:

See the last home run ball of the 20th Century, hit by Jim Leyritz, on October 27, 1999.