Reliving ‘The Slide’ was fun

Published 7:23pm Tuesday, June 12, 2012

On Saturday afternoon, while watching the Atlanta Braves defeat the Toronto Blue Jays 5-2 at Turner Field, I had a chance to relive one of the greatest plays in Atlanta Braves baseball history.

The play happened in the 7th and deciding game of the 1992 National League Championship Series. It was simply known as “The Slide.” The Braves celebrated the 20th anniversary of the 1992 National League Champion Braves team on Saturday afternoon.

Back in 1992, the Braves’ first baseman, Sid Bream had undergone five knee surgeries and was arguably the slowest runner on the team.

When the deciding game of the seven game National League playoff series came around on October 14, 1992 he was not a likely hero candidate.

Neither was the Braves’ backup catcher, Francisco Cabrera, but fate put them together as heroes that day.

The Braves were down 2-0 entering the bottom of the ninth, they had managed to score a run but faced a two-out situation with the bases loaded. Bream was on second base, representing the winning run.

Ironically, Bream had spent most of his major league career with the Pirates before being traded to the Braves before that season.
Braves manager Bobby Cox called on Cabrera, who was warming up relief pitchers in the bullpen at the time, to come in and pinch hit.

Cabrera lined a single to left off Stan Belinda, driving in the tying and winning runs. Bream beat the throw from Pirates left fielder Barry Bonds, sliding in just in front of Pirates catcher Mike LaValliere’s tag as home plate umpire Randy Marsh signaled “safe” and the Braves rushed onto the field to congratulate Bream and Cabrera.

Belinda had come on in the ninth to relieve Pirates’ starter, Doug Drabek, who had pitched eight strong scoreless innings before the Braves’ comeback.

During that fateful play, which sent the Braves to their second World Series in the 1990s, the late Braves radio announcer Skip Caray said “Here comes Bream! Here’s the throw to the plate! He is – safe! Braves win! Braves win! Braves win! Braves win!”

The master of ceremonies for the pre-game commemoration Saturday, which was shown on the Braves’ large scoreboard video screen, was Caray’s long time sidekick, Pete Van Wieren. Up on the stage with Van Wieren were Bream, Cabrera and Umpire Marsh, who is still affiliated with Major League Baseball.

It was Braves alumni weekend, and prior to the commemoration ceremony, my brother Tom and I enjoyed watching a celebrity softball game between the 1992 Braves and another Braves alumni team.

Alumni team players included center fielder and back-to-back National League MVP Dale Murphy and right handed pitcher John Smoltz, who had been inducted into the Braves Hall of Fame and had his number 29 retired before Friday night’s Braves game.

Joe Crine is the sports editor at The Post-Searchlight. You can email him at joe.crine@thepostsearchlight.com.

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