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October 27, 1999: the Yankees vs. the Braves, World Series Game Four: The End


Confetti drifting in disconnected clouds, police horses crapping on the field, 56,000 people staying in their seats and yelling -- they seem to be suspended in the air above the field, the stadium itself disappearing in the sound, a three-story bowl of noise like no other.

Howard Safir, as soon as the Yankees clear the field, striding past the dozens of cops guarding the field, straight to the pitcher's mound, where he poses forphotos snapped by his pit-bull press aide, Marilyn Mode.

Biff Henderson singing along with Frank Sinatra.

Somehow, with everything he's been through in the past 24 hours, Paul O'Neill is able to sum up the larger scene, from this vantage point in right field. "It wasa perfect ending for us -- the crowd on its feet, a three-run lead, Mariano on the mound," O'Neill says in the chaotic, celebratory clubhouse, champagne spewing in random directions, camera crews elbowing for position. But everyone stands back from O'Neill, giving him some space. "It was the time to sit back and enjoy the moment," he says. And O'Neill needed something to enjoy after his father's death. "When I was 5 years old, my father told me I was gonna play in the major leagues," he says, his eyes staring at the floor. "It's not a fun way to start the off season -- going to my father's funeral. But I am proud of thisteam." He can't talk anymore and excuses himself.

Derek Jeter sounds like a little kid: He's whispering, "Look out, look out, look out!" as he taps my arm and moves me away from George Steinbrenner, so Jetercan sneak up on the Yankees' owner from behind. For the second year in a row, Jeter is the one who dares to douse Steinbrenner, who happily announces, "That'sthe end of the interview! I need a towel!" as Jeter wraps him in a hug.

Joe Torre is much more willing. He comes over to Jeter and takes off his hat. "I need to get wet!" Torre says, and Jeter doesn't hesitate. "Awwww!" Torre yellsas he drips. "Now I feel like one of the guys! Now I feel like I belong!" Then Torre shivers happily. "Can't you guys use warm champagne?"

Jeter, his hat backwards, a rare departure from baseball decorum for him, pulling a Cohiba (courtesy of El Duque) from his back right pinstriped baseball-pants pocket as he dances down the tunnel to the dugout, leaping up to touch the sign with the painted quote from Joe DiMaggio, "I want to thank the Good Lord for making me a Yankee."

Andy Pettitte saying he's really glad the Yankees didn't trade him.

David Cone at 1:00 a.m., the last Yankee on the field, as always the last Yankee talking. "This seems like the culmination of so much emotion, from all the wayback in '96 when I had the aneurysm to this morning with Paul O'Neill. And losing our manager in the middle of it all. You saw it -- the clubhouse was eerie afterwards, eerie with relief. Grown men were crying, and not because we won. That's why there was no loud music playing. You saw Paul's reaction on thefield, he kind of knelt down. Everyone surrounded him, almost like we were trying to protect him. Many of the emotions tonight had nothing to do with baseball. It's tough to eloquate. I'm humbled to be part of it."

--1:48 a.m., October 28, 1999


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