20-year Marliniversary: Gonzalez’s walk-off blast in extras evens World Series

On this day 20 years ago, Alex Gonzalez’s walk-off home run in the 12th inning lifted the Florida Marlins past the New York Yankees and evened the World Series at two games apiece.

As many baseball fans are aware, the Florida Marlins capped their first World Series title with a walk-off win in extra innings in Game 7 of the 1997 World Series. Although the Marlins claimed their second championship at historic Yankee Stadium, the 2003 World Series did have an extra-inning walk-off win for the Fish.

It came on this day 20 years ago.

On Oct. 22, 2003, it was shortstop Alex Gonzalez who played the role of hero. His walk-off home run in Game 4 lifted the Marlins to a 4-3 victory over the New York Yankees and evened the series at two games apiece.

After pushing across a pair of runs in the top of the ninth on a two-run triple from Ruben Sierra to draw even, the Yankees were on the verge of taking the lead in the top of the 11th inning at Pro Player Stadium. With the bases loaded and one out, Florida turned to right-hander Braden Looper.

The closer to start the year, Looper was able to get the Marlins out of the jam. After striking out Aaron Boone, Looper got John Flaherty to pop out to third.

The Marlins went in order in the bottom of the inning before Looper worked a scoreless 12th. The Yankees sent Jeff Weaver out for his second inning of work in the bottom of the 12th as Alex Gonzalez came to the plate.

To that point, the Florida shortstop had gone just 5-for-53 at the plate in the postseason. Against Weaver, he would have the biggest at-bat of his career.

Gonzalez was able to work the count full before fouling off multiple pitches. On the eighth offering of the at-bat, Gonzalez hooked one down the left-field line. His shot stayed fair and narrowly cleared the wall in left field for the first and only walk-off home run in Marlins postseason history.

Prior to Gonzalez’s blast, Florida had not scored since the first inning when it strung together five consecutive two-out hits against Yankees starter Roger Clemens. Miguel Cabrera’s two-run home run to right field got the scoring started before Derrek Lee singled home Jeff Conine to push the lead to 3-0.

The Yankees got on the scoreboard with a sacrifice fly from Boone in the second before drawing even with two runs off closer Ugueth Urbina in the ninth. Bernie Williams finished with four hits and two runs scored in the loss. Conine had three hits while Ivan Rodriguez and Lee each added two for victorious Florida.

On the verge of facing a 3-1 series deficit, the Marlins instead won the final three games to take the series in six. The lone one-run game of the series was decided by a walk-off homer from Gonzalez in the 12th inning on this day two decades ago.

Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Mike Ferguson is a contributor for Fish on First, who covers Miami Marlins history. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikeWFerguson.

Leave a Comment