Atlanta Braves: 23rd Anniversary of When Sid Slid

23 years ago tonight, the Atlanta Braves had one of their greatest moments in franchise history. Tonight we remember When Sid Slid.

During the 50 years of Atlanta Braves baseball, I don’t think there is a more definitive encapsulation than the night when slow-footed 1B Sid Bream scored to winning run in the bottom of the ninth to send the 1992 Atlanta Braves to the World Series.

-= Related: Atlanta Braves: Remembering the Infield Fly Rule Game =-

To me, this is one of the three most clutch moments in Atlanta/Georgia history, along with the “Run, Lindsay, Run!” play for the Georgia Bulldogs in 1980 against the Florida Gators and the 1998 Atlanta Falcons knocking off the 15-1 Minnesota Vikings in Minneapolis to go to the Super Bowl.

Sure, there are factions of Braves Country that prefer Carlos Baerga flying out to Marquis Grissom for Atlanta’s only professional championship to date. Some may still marvel at Hank Aaron‘s 715th over 40 years later. Others may gravitate towards C Greg Olson leaping into RHP John Smoltz‘s arms when the Atlanta Braves went worst to first or may still wonder how CF Otis Nixon came down with The Catch.

However, the improbable nature of how the 1992 Atlanta Braves went back to the World Series is unlike any other moment in Atlanta Braves history. Nothing surpasses the miraculous nature of the Team of the 90’s quite like When Sid Slid.

Down 0-2 in the bottom of the ninth in Game 7 of the NLCS, Pittsburgh Pirates Manager Jim Leyland sent SP Doug Drabek out to the mound to complete the potential series clinching shutout. Drabek had won the 1990 NL Cy Young and had been the team’s ace during their three consecutive NL East titles (1990-92). He actually out-dueled Atlanta’s SP John Smoltz in the game through the first 8 frames.

Drabek promptly loaded the bases to start the bottom of the ninth before being pulled in favor of RP Stan Belinda. Doug Drabek surrendered a leadoff double to 3B Terry Pendleton, RF David Justice reached first on a rare error by sure-handed SS Jose Lind, and Drabek then walked 1B Sid Bream on four straight pitches.

Belinda faced LF Ron Gant, who hit a sacrifice fly to score Pendleton from third. The Atlanta Braves’ batter walked to load the bases again in Damon Berryhill. Brian Hunter pinch hit for 2B Rafael Belliard, only to pop up on two pitches to have the Atlanta Braves down 2-1 with one out remaining and the bases loaded.

Atlanta Braves Manager Bobby Cox made his next bold move by using 3rd string catcher Francisco Cabrera as the team’s next pinch hitter for RP Jeff Reardon. On a 2-0 count, Cabrera hit a foul ball down the left field line. Pirates CF Andy Van Slyke signaled to LF Barry Bonds to play in to not allow the winning run from scoring. Knowing the welcoming legacy of Barry Bonds, he then gave Van Slyke the bird.

On the very next pitch, what did Francisco Cabrera do? Single between short and third. David Justice scored effortlessly from third to tie the ball game, but the slowest man on the team in 1B Sid Bream kept chugging along the base path to try to send the Braves to the World Series.

Bream came to the Atlanta Braves in 1991, ironically from Pittsburgh, to help sure up the corners defensively along with 3B Terry Pendleton. Sid Bream could always handle the bat well and play stellar defense at first, but his old age had essentially ruined his knees, hobbling across the diamond with two knee braces on.

While I am unfortunately too young to recall watching the play live, I don’t get any more fired up than when I watch Sid Bream slide into home to send the Atlanta Braves to the 1992 World Series on replay. I feel that there are three things that allowed Bream to score on that play: 1. There were two outs in the bottom of the ninth. 2. Barry Bonds had a notorious glass arm. 3. There was nothing left to lose for the Atlanta Braves, it was already tied up!

With the Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium erupting on contact, there was no way that Sid Bream wasn’t going to score on that plate. I like how David Justice to told Bream he had to slide to score the winning run. Of course he had to, Dave! He’s the slowest player in the National League! Fortunately for Braves Country, Bream beat out Bonds’ wide throw by a few feet and the magical ’92 season kept on going.

These are the type of moments where winners reveal themselves. You may have all the talent in the world (Bonds), but in the right circumstances two of the most unlikely men on the diamond (Cabrera and Bream) can become regional heroes for the rest of time. I’d give anything to see our Atlanta Braves have another magical moment of this size in the next couple of years. I miss deep Atlanta Braves postseason runs. Tonight, we remember When Sid Slid.