Little big men
Rarely used Curtis, Grimsley finally given chances to shine
Posted: Wednesday October 27, 1999 08:52 AM
Stepping up: Chad Curtis couldn’t have picked a better time to shine. AP
By Jamal Greene, Sports Illustrated
Ten minutes after the Yankees come-from-behind win in Game 3 of the World Series at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday night, the media entered the clubhouse to oohs and aahs.
The hubbub was emanating from the players' lounge adjacent to the locker area. The players were watching highlights of the game on television.
Who can blame them for getting a little excited?
Chad Curtis, who had all of 195 at-bats this season, whose career renown until Tuesday was his trademark full somersault at the end of throws to the plate, hit two home runs, including a walk-off shot in the 10th inning to give his team a 3-0 Series lead.
Jason Grimsley, who was not on the playoff roster for the Division Series nor for the League Championship Series, entered the game for mop-up duty with the Yankees down 5-1 in the fourth inning and held the Braves scoreless for 2 1/3 innings in his first ever postseason appearance.
In this Series as during the season, the Yankees seem to have found a way to win every game.
In Game 1, it was little ball combined with dominant pitching. In Game 2, it was deep counts and incessant offense. Last night it was bit players taking lead roles.
The starters could not have been more pleased. Said right fielder Paul O'Neill, "So many people in here are happy that Chad is the guy to do this. This could make his whole year. It means a lot to us when people who don't get in the camera light help us win a game."
Bernie Williams echoed what seemed a team-wide sentiment. "Chad is one of our team leaders, and I mean that. He stayed strong through the whole year waiting for his chance, so I'm very happy for him."
Happiest of all may have been Yankees starter Andy Pettitte.
Pettitte had not allowed a run in a World Series game since Game 1 of the 1996 Series, a span of two starts, but he was roughed up for five runs on 10 hits in just 3 2/3 innings.
Said Pettitte, "Jason hasn't pitched in a month and Chad was a back-up all season. It's awesome for them."
With Curtis fielding questions at the post-game press conference, Grimsley stood a few feet from his locker, surrounded by more camera crews than he'd ever seen in his life.
He made the team as a non-roster invitee after signing a minor-league contract in the offseason and not having pitched in the majors since 1996.
Holding his infant child in his arms, he squinted before the camera lights. "It was like my first game in the big leagues," he said. "This is the moment you wait for your whole life. It makes you numb."
He may feel even better if New York extends its 11-game World Series win streak to a record-tying 12th game tonight. Manager Joe Torre hands the ball to Roger Clemens, who will pitch in the game he says he came to the Yankees to pitch in-a title clincher.
Said Scott Brosius, "We can't ask to be in a better spot."
Brosius' words were nearly drowned out by the oohs and aahs.