by RENALDO DORSETT
As his whirlwind late season run for the Yankees continues, Bahamian major leaguer Antoan Richardson became the answer to a future trivia question and was a crucial part of a play that will live on in Yankees lore.
Richardson scored the game-winning run off an RBI single by Derek Jeter, in the 20-year veteran’s final at-bat at Yankee Stadium.
The 6-5 win over the Baltimore Orioles Thursday night underscored the fond farewell for the future Hall of Famer.
Richardson said the buzz throughout the stadium all night inspired him to break his normal tendencies to do what he could to help create the storybook ending.
“I never slide headfirst into home plate but at that moment I knew I had to get my hand in there,” Richardson said, “When he hit that ball I put my head down and I just started running and I hit third base, the third base coach waved me home really aggressively so I knew I had to go and at that point i just thought to myself ‘I have to score, I have no choice but to score.'”
Jose Pirela started the rally in the bottom of the ninth inning with a leadoff single.
Richardson was called in to pinch run for Pirela and was advanced to second on a sac bunt by Brett Gardner.
Jeter blasted the single through the gap on the right side of the field and Richardson slid home ahead of the tag from Oriels catcher Caleb Joseph.
“I did my job, that’s what I was supposed to do, he did what he was supposed to do and that’s the concept of the team right there. There was no other way you would expect ‘The Captain’ to end the day. That was a really cool experience to witness it and it was almost like a dream for most of us. From what you have seen from him over all the years you expect nothing less from that guy,” Richardson said, He just told me good job. There were a lot of emotions going on for him, but I’m sure we will be talking about it more at the field. Everybody was excited we got the win because at the end of the day that’s all Jeter cares about is winning ball games.”
A near capacity crowd of 48,613 packed Yankee Stadium to witness the historic moment.
“From the beginning of the game to the end you could tell it was something different it was like a playoff atmosphere. I’ve never been apart of a playoff game in a major league stadium, but the fans were electric, the stadium was rocking all night and when Jeter stepped to the plate they would roar and it shook the stadium.
Since being called up from triple-A baseball, Richardson, 30, has had a historic run with the Yankees.
The veteran outfielder has hit for an average of .364, 4-11 with one RBI, two run scores and five stolen bases.
Richardson officially made his Yankee debut September 3 as a pinch runner in the seventh inning of his team’s 5-4 come from behind win over the Boston Red Sox.It was his first big league appearance in three years and he became New York’s 56th player this season, tying the team record set last year.
He made his first major League start on September 12 in a makeup game against the Orioles.
Despite the Yankees 2-1 loss, Richardson had a strong showing at the plate and the best day of any member of the Yankees line-up when he went 2-3.
He also added a stolen base in the first game of a double header.
In the second game that afternoon, Richardson pinch ran and was also 1-1 at the plate in a 5-0 loss for the Yankees.
The following day, Richardson and the Yankees turned it around in game three of the series with a 3-2 win.
He knocked in his first career RBI and added another stolen base in the game.
The Yankees will close out the regular season with the final game of the three-game series against the Boston Red Sox tomorrow at 1:35pm at Fenway Park in Boston.
Jeter has stated that he will not play shortstop during the final series on the road, choosing to make his final start in the only stadium he called home during his legendary career.