It was Oct. 30, 2009 and the Spectrum was ending its 42-year run with four Pearl Jam shows. The third night just happened to be an off-night in the World Series between the Yankees and Phillies.
As lead singer Eddie Vedder introduced his song “Force of Nature” he referenced his friend Raul Ibanez and dedicated it to him by saying “he’s a force of f—ing nature.”
The segment of Yankee fans in the crowd booed, while getting drowned out by the “Let’s Go Phillies” chants. Fast forward three years, the Yankee fans aren’t booing anymore. Instead, they’re howling, “Raul, Raul.”
The legend of Ibanez grew Wednesday night when, not only did he pinch-hit for Alex Rodriguez, but he blasted a game-tying solo homer, then hit the game-winner on the first pitch of the 12th inning
“I don’t even really remember what happened,” Ibanez said. “It was kind of a blur what happened. I think sometime down the line, I’ll kind of remember it and recall it. But I think I was just trying to get a good pitch to hit, and fortunately, it worked out.”
If Ibanez is indeed a “Force of Nature,” he’s rather modest about it.
“Alex is one of the best hitters of all-time and he still is,” Ibanez said. “He’s one of the greatest players in the history of the game. I just tried to get a good pitch to hit.”
Ibanez has had a slew of big hits in recent weeks. He hit two home runs, including the game-tying blast in the 13th of a 14-inning win over Oakland and the game-tying home run in the ninth, along with the winning hit in the 12th vs. Boston on Oct. 2.
In those three games, Ibanez is 7-for-9 with five homers and seven RBIs. Not bad for a guy who struggled in spring training and was down to a .222 average before becoming clutch for the Yankees.
“Raul is an old Miami buddy of mine,” Rodriguez said. “I was really proud of him. That was an amazing performance. It couldn’t happen to a better guy.”