Atlanta Braves, First Baseman
"At that point in time,
it was up to me."
To grasp the magic of the Sid Bream slide, most us need the videotape. It shows Bream looking like
what? Time standing still? His arms were moving faster than his legs. His 6-foot-4 frame lumbered toward home. It was almost as if he was running in slow motion.
But David Justice, who scored the tying run from third ahead of Bream, doesn't need a visual aid. He was there, and he'll never forget the scene. This is how he remembers it: "I thought Sid was going to be safe easily. I mean easily," said Justice, who watched at home plate as Bream chugged down the line. "But when that ball was in the air and I saw [him] running, I'm thinking, 'Oh my god, it's like a piano is on his back.' It was like he was never going to get there."
Whenever Bream is asked about the play that sent the Braves to the 1992 World Series, he tells people the hard part was done by Francisco Cabrera; he got the hit. Still, Bream says the confluence of three extraordinary components -- one improbable, one inexplicable and one
well, perhaps divine -- went into his game-winning slide.
Bream was a slow runner, maybe the slowest on the team. Certainly not the likeliest Brave to be able to score from second.
"I would have been a decent runner without my knee surgeries; but at that point in time, I was slow," said Bream. "Most people would have been past the plate, and that wouldn't have even been a close play."
But oddly, in this case, being down to their last out became an advantage for the Braves and Bream.
"If there was one out, I would have froze because the ball literally was a line drive right to the right of Jay Bell at shortstop," said Bream. "So I took a little bit better lead at second base. When the ball was hit I just took off
I knew at that point in time, it was up to me to try and get around third base and score."
Bream was still in the game.
When Cabrera came to the plate with two outs and the bases loaded, manager Bobby Cox left him at second instead of using a pinch runner.
"Every game [throughout the year] when Sid is on second base, I'd come in and pinch run for him," said Brian Hunter.
But this time, Hunter had pinch hit for Rafael Belliard and popped out just ahead of Cabrera's at-bat.
"That's the reason why Sid was still running," he said. "Unless [Cox] would have went with a pitcher."
Bream had come from Pittsburgh and was playing against his old team. All part of the Lord's plan for his life, he says.
He played for the Pirates from 1985 to 1990, and calls Pittsburgh his home. He signed with Atlanta as a free agent before the 1991 season, but he still had plenty of friends on the '92 Pirates.
"God used that for myself and it gave me a platform to go around and speak and tell people about my relationship with Him," said Bream. "It's given me an opportunity to do that."
For Bream, all three of those elements -- his injured knees, Cox's decision to leave him in, and the fact that he faced his former team -- played into the emotion of the moment when umpire Randy Marsh called him safe. Not only would he forever be a part of baseball history, but his slide would represent the beauty of postseason baseball, when anyone can become a hero.
"I think for me, it was more of just a jubilation that I got because most people would have been in the dugout and in the clubhouse by the time I got there," Bream said. "But when I recognized that I was safe and took notice to Justice coming over and jumping on top of me and proceeding to have the rest of the team come pile on top of me, it was just a time for jubilation and a time for excitement. I was just thankful I had the opportunity to help my team get to the World Series."
Only a small percentage of players who make it to the majors get a chance to experience what Bream did that night in one of the most iconic postseason plays in baseball history.
"Most players go into obscurity," Bream said. "To think that a sophomore in college was not even born during that play but yet it continues to be brought up from time to time, it really is an honor for me to be a part of that."
-- Anna McDonald, ESPN.com
Randy Marsh, Mike LaValliere, David Justice, Terry Pendleton, Sid Bream, Ron Gant, Brian Hunter, John Smoltz, Andy Van Slyke, Bud Selig
"I wasn't worried
about style points."
"I thought we'd have
[Bream] by a mile."
"Sid was barely safe.
a matter of inches."
"I didn't go to sleep 'til
7:00 the next morning."
"You always have
that one out left."
"We knew Bonds didn't
have a good arm."
"I was pouting
in the clubhouse."
"I just knew that
it was the end."
Major League Baseball
The celebration began with Sid Bream and David
Justice at the plate as Mike LaValliere's tag was late.
Photo: AFP/Getty Images/Jim Gund