Jim Leyritz, hero of the 1996 World Series, knows a little something about hitting under pressure in the playoffs … and now the catcher/infielder/outfield (Jim basically played every position) is telling TMZ Sports his secret.
“I always was taught that at a very young age from Pete Rose is if I treated every at-bat from day one til the end of the season, it didn’t matter where it was, or what was going on around me, but that at-bat was the most important one, so I never got caught up in the moment, and that’s what I would tell young players,” Jim says.
“Don’t get caught up in the moment. It’s you against him. It’s no different than your first at-bat at spring training or your last at-bat of the season. Concentrate on that at-bat and don’t get caught up on everything going on around you.”
“It’s easier said than done, but that was my mindset.”
You learned that from Pete, we asked.
“I have to thank Pete Rose, as a 14-year-old kid, as a batboy for the Reds, and he gave me that advice, and its helped me through my entire life in everything I’ve done under pressure, that I was able to perform under pressure.”
Of course, Leyritz’s is most known for his 3-run home run during Game 4 of the ’96 World Series … between the Yankees and Braves. Atlanta led the series, 2 games to 1, and held a commanding 6-0 lead through 5 innings in the pivotal game.
But, the Yanks scratched a few runs across … and then in the 8th inning, Leyritz came to the plate, down 3, with 1 out and 2 runners aboard.
Then, with one crack of the bat, Leyritz blasted a 3-run dinger to left, tying the game at 6. The game went to extra innings before the Yankees ultimately won 8-6 in the 10th, evening the series at 2 games apiece.
NY went on to win Game 5 behind a dominant performance by Andy Pettitte … before putting the Braves down once and for all in Game 6. It was the NYY first championship since 1978.
It was Jim’s most memorable moment … but not his only one. Just one year earlier, during the 1995 MLB playoffs, Leyritz blasted a walk-off, 2-run home run in the 15th inning of the 2nd game of the ALDS, putting the Yanks up 2-0 in the series.
Now, the Yankees will face their hated rivals, the Houston Astros in the American League Championship Series … with 4 wins the only thing separating the squad from a World Series berth.
Great seats with Boss Steve Napolitano (Amtrust Title) to watch Yankees beat Cleveland and move on to ALCS. Congrats Yankees and let’s take down Houston. Let’s GO YANKS. pic.twitter.com/hHLNPLx8Ec