UNCASVILLE, Conn. -- It's been more than a decade since the Mets and Yankees battled in the World Series, but the memories are still fresh to the former participants.
A group of formers Mets and Yankees players, coaches and managers gathered to reminisce and celebrate the 10th anniversary of the 2000 Subway Series on Friday night at Mohegan Sun. The event also included a celebrity dinner and memorabilia auction, and was hosted by the Connecticut Sports Foundation. Roger Clemens was scheduled to speak at the dinner.
Players in attendance at the pre-dinner news conference included former Mets closer John Franco, former Mets outfielder Benny Agbayani, and former Yankees reliever Mike Stanton. Former Yankees bench coach Don Zimmer and first baseman Moose Skowron also were present.
"It was a wonderful time in my life personally," said former Mets manager Bobby Valentine. "I thought it was a wonderful time in New York. I can't even envision the excitement that was on the streets, in the stands, over the airwaves because of guys like you see here in front of me.
"Both teams had true grit players -- guys who loves to play the game, who were laying it all out on the line. And the New York fan got that dream coming true of having a [Subway] Series. And the Mets fans' dreams were crushed, but it sure was a good series and they sure were good games as I remember them."
The former participants all laughed as they remembered the details of the five-game series that concluded with the Yankees winning their 26th world championship. There was talk of Jeff Nelson coming out of the bullpen for the Yankees, Todd Zeile's near-home run in Game 1 that instead turned into an out at home plate due to some poor base running by Timo Perez, and how both teams used police escorts to quickly get back and forth between the two stadiums.
One play that stuck out as a key point in the series was former Yankees outfielder Paul O'Neill's lengthy at-bat that resulted in a walk with one out in the bottom of the ninth of Game 1 against Mets closer Armando Benitez. The Yankees went on to tie the game that inning, and later took Game 1, 4-3 in 12.
"In our minds aside, that was the Timo game -- besides not having an extra pad going into that inning, that (10)-pitch at-bat was the difference in that game," Zeile said. "Benitez gives up a run, we go into extra innings, we lose, and (O'Neill) fought off pitches that were on the black. Armando was throwing great pitches, everything he had in his bag, and Paulie found a way to get on base."
While the Subway Series was certainly memorable for pitting two New York teams against each other in the World Series, some of those involved believe that interleague play lessened the hype and excitement leading into the series. The Yankees and Mets had already played six times that season before the World Series began. Even that point, though, wasn't harped on by the former players, just briefly mentioned.
It had been 44 years since the last time two New York teams played against each other in the World Series. Those in attendance on Friday won't forget the memories of being in a Subway Series.
"Growing up as a Mets fan and getting the opportunity to play for the Mets and getting into the World Series, when I waited a zillion years to finally get into the World Series, and finally got in and we had to play the Yankees -- I thought it was great for the city," Franco said. "Both fans were great -- Yankees fans, Mets fans. I think the interleague probably took a little bit away from it probably with how crazy it could've been, but it was a joy to play and unfortunately for us we fell on the short end of it. But it was great."