At a time when Americans desperately needed a diversion, our national pastime presented us with a World Series no one will soon forget.

Through seven intense and almost unbelievably dramatic games in late October and early November, the Arizona Diamondbacks and New York Yankees reminded us what sports can mean in this country. Each game left fans more stunned than the last, and by the time Luis Gonzalez’ flare dropped just over the head of Derek Jeter to plate the winning run in Game 7, we knew we had witnessed one of the greatest Series in history.

Three of the last four games were decided by the final swing of the bat, and twice that came only after the Yankees belted game-tying home runs with the final out staring them in face. Two Arizona pitchers — fireballers Curt Schilling and Randy Johnson — turned in Herculean performances, each recovering from almost no rest to dominate three games and to record all four Arizona wins.

And while the Arizona win marked the fastest ever for an expansion team, the victory came as sweet redemption for stars like Schilling, Johnson, Mike Morgan and Mark Grace, who had spent long careers searching for a championship. Throughout our history, sports have served to unite this nation in times of crisis. For Americans watching at home and for our troops listening overseas, this Fall Classic left a legacy that will endure.