The Atlanta Braves are a complete team. After accumulating more
wins, more Cy Young Awards and more 15-game winners in the 1990s
than any other club--but no world championships--they found
fulfillment in their third crack at the World Series. By
defeating the Cleveland Indians in six games, the Braves ended
comparisons to the bridesmaid Buffalo Bills and inspired others
to the Los Angeles Dodgers of 1963-66, the last National League
team to reach three of four consecutive World Series.
This is an article from the Oct. 31, 1995 issue
Like those Dodgers of Koufax and Drysdale, the Braves dominated
with magnificent pitching. Atlanta held the Indians--a team that
had posted the highest batting average (.291) in nearly half a
century--to a .179 batting average, the lowest for a team in a
six-game Series in 84 years. The Braves beat Cleveland this way:
two-hitter, six-hitter, six-hitter and one-hitter, securing
their status as the Team of the '90s and appropriately
bookending their triumph with masterful performances by their
two best starters.
At the request of Brave general manager John Schuerholz, the
first World Series to be played in the chill that lingered from
the 1994 baseball strike began with a ceremonial pitch from Cal
Ripken Jr. "He was the first person who came to mind,"
Schuerholz said of the Baltimore Oriole shortstop. "Who better
exemplifies the good of baseball when we need more than ever to
accentuate the good?"
After the Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium crowd welcomed Ripken
with warm applause and the twinkling of hundreds of flashbulbs,
he set the tone for the evening by throwing a strike. The two
players who followed Ripken to the mound became ambassadors for
the game as well, crafting pitching performances that made it
seem as if, for one autumn night, everything in the baseball
universe were nearly perfect.
Greg Maddux of the Braves and Orel Hershiser of the Indians,
both Cy Young Award winners with 150 lifetime wins, nasty
fastballs that sink and Howdy Doody faces that belie their
tenacity, turned Game 1 into Masterpiece Theatre. Hershiser
pitched brilliantly for six innings before suddenly tiring in
the seventh, when, with the score tied 1-1, he walked the first
two batters and took himself out of the game. Hershiser suffered
his first postseason loss in eight career decisions when the
Braves pushed the runners across against the Cleveland bullpen
without getting a hit. One run scored on an infield out by pinch
hitter Luis Polonia, and the other came in on a first-pitch
squeeze bunt by shortstop Rafael Belliard.
Maddux, on the other hand, came within a ground ball error (by
Belliard) and two opposite-field singles of throwing a perfect
game. He finished with a two-hitter, no walks, 95 pitches (of
which only 32 missed the strike zone) and a 3-2 victory. Both
Cleveland runs were unearned.
"That was the best-pitched game I have ever seen," said
Cleveland infield coach Buddy Bell, who broke into the majors in
1972. "I don't know how you can be any more perfect."
"Tell Buddy, when you see 700 innings of Maddux, you see a lot
of that," said Atlanta pitching coach Leo Mazzone. "You're at a
loss for words. I don't know what to say anymore. I think it was
great for baseball to see two masters of their craft on top of
So fierce was the pitching that the game could have been
played inside the Braves' postgame party tent without disturbing
the buffalo-meat carving station. Sixty-one batters went to the
plate, and only seven put the ball out of the infield. The two
clubs combined for only five hits; no World Series game has
Mostly, however, the game belonged to Maddux, whose first
opportunity in the glare of a World Series further confirmed his
place among the alltime great pitchers. He shut down a Cleveland
team that had seven .300 hitters in its starting lineup. The
late movement of Maddux's pitches caused so many futile swings
and broken bats that the Indians lost count of the kindling;
estimates from their clubhouse ranged from six to more than 10
broken bats. "The ball is there, and then it's not there," said
Cleveland catcher Sandy Alomar. "I've never seen anything like
In one typical flash of brilliance, Maddux struck out Manny
Ramirez in the fifth inning with three straight sinking
fastballs that painted an imaginary ellipsis (dot-dot-dot)
across the lower boundary of the strike zone, each ball only
inches farther out than the last. Wonderstruck, Ramirez never
moved the bat off his shoulder.
Maddux actually trailed 1-0 after Cleveland's first at bat.
Indian leadoff man Kenny Lofton reached first on Belliard's
error, swiped two bases and scored on one of Cleveland's 19
ground ball outs. (Not since Babe Ruth in 1921 had an American
Leaguer stolen two bases in one inning of a Series game.)
Atlanta tied the score in the second when Fred McGriff crushed a
home run, and the Braves forged ahead with a low-decibel,
two-run rally in the seventh: three walks, a grounder and a
bunt. It was enough for the Braves' ace.
"I just thought of locating my fastball and changing speeds,"
said Maddux. "The St. Louis game [a 1-0 win on Aug. 20] was
good, but this was my best game ever, everything considered. I
feel better coming out of this one than any other. I mean, it's
the World Series."
And when Game 1 was over, after Maddux had added luster to his
career and given baseball an unforgettable night, he ripped down
the lineup card from the dugout wall to present to his father.
He kept the ball from the final out for himself. Then the
greatest pitcher of his generation slipped on a Bugs Bunny
T-shirt, a Mickey Mouse cap and round-rimmed glasses and headed
home, carrying a teddy bear for his daughter.
All season long Tom Glavine followed Maddux in the Atlanta
rotation, and that made it Glavine's responsibility to document
his teammate's excellence. As the next game's starter, Glavine
kept the pitch chart for each of Maddux's starts--a task, given
Maddux's economy of pitches, that was as challenging as tackling
a paint-by-the-numbers picture. The chart from Game 1 looked
typically tidy: 95 pitches, 63 strikes and no brushstrokes
outside the lines.
"It seems pretty amazing," Glavine said of Maddux's work, "but I
don't think it's as complex as people think it is. Locate your
fastball and change speeds. Having watched him so much, I know
what he's going to do. It really is a simple game plan."
When Glavine put down his pencil to take the ball for Game 2 in
Atlanta, he once again proved himself a worthy successor to
Maddux--just not as tidy. Glavine beat Cleveland 4-3 despite
walking three batters in six innings and often falling behind in
If Maddux's two-hitter in the opener was, as teammate John
Smoltz called it, "vintage Maddux," then this was classic
Glavine. Despite wobbling, Glavine never gave in to the Indian
hitters, even if he did throw four more pitches in his six
innings than Maddux did in nine. Glavine repeatedly escaped
trouble not by pumping fastballs over the plate but by trusting
in his changeup. That has been the hallmark of the pitcher who
has won more games over the past five seasons (91) than any
other pitcher in baseball, including Maddux (90).
"Nobody's better at not giving in," said Mazzone, who calls
Glavine's persistent pursuit of the corners "staying stubborn on
the edge. He doesn't give in. If he misses, he moves the ball
inches in, not over the heart of the plate."
After the Indians' combined 5-for-55 showing against Maddux and
Glavine, Cleveland manager Mike Hargrove said, "They're just
better pitchers than we've seen for a while--but don't write that
there are better pitchers in the National League than in the
Like Maddux, Glavine fell behind early. Eddie Murray gave
Cleveland a 2-0 lead in the second inning with a home run for
the aged--at 39, he became the third-oldest player to hit a World
Series homer (behind Enos Slaughter and Joe Morgan, who were 40)
and the third player to hit one in each of three decades
(joining Yogi Berra and Joe DiMaggio).
The Braves rallied against another old hand, 40-year-old Indian
pitcher Dennis Martinez, pushing across two runs in the third
inning on a sacrifice fly by Chipper Jones and a two-out single
by David Justice.
Then Glavine held Cleveland scoreless over three nervous
innings. When the Indians put two runners on in the fourth,
Glavine got out of the jam by getting Jim Thome to look at a
third strike. When two more Indians reached base in the fifth,
Glavine ended the threat by retiring Carlos Baerga on a fly to
right. And after walking the leadoff batter in the sixth,
Glavine buzzed through Murray, Ramirez and Thome without further
The game turned in the bottom of that inning on a decision by
Hargrove that blew up on him. With a runner at third and one
out, he chose to have a tiring Martinez pitch to Javier Lopez
rather than issue him a walk to get to the light-hitting
Belliard. "We felt Dennis could get [Lopez] out," Hargrove said.
Despite having played in only 197 major league games, Lopez, 24,
has established himself as a difficult out, especially in clutch
situations. He batted .315 in 1995--the Braves had not had a
.300-hitting catcher since Joe Torre in '66--and hit .359 with
runners in scoring position (.441 with fewer than two outs).
In his previous at bat against Martinez, Lopez had banged a
fastball that took leftfielder Albert Belle all the way to the
wall. Lopez was surprised to see Martinez pitching to him again.
"I thought I had a home run the time before," Lopez said. "I
told myself I hoped he threw the same pitch again."
Martinez worked ahead in the count, 1 and 2. "I was thinking he
wouldn't throw me a curveball in the dirt that might bounce and
let the run score from third," said Lopez, relying on his
catcher's intuition. "I thought he might throw me a fastball
away." Sure enough, Martinez tried to sneak an outside fastball
past Lopez, who crushed the pitch over the centerfield wall for
a 4-2 lead that Cleveland would not overcome.
After the Indians scored an unearned run in the seventh off
reliever Greg McMichael, Alejandro Pena came out of the bullpen
with the tying run on third and got Belle to pop up an 0-and-2
fastball to end the inning. "I'm not afraid of anyone," said
Pena. "You go with your best stuff."
The tenor of the Series was set after Glavine took the baton
cleanly from Maddux. Atlanta pitchers combined to limit the
Indians to only eight hits (one for extra bases) in 64 at bats
as the Braves jumped to a 2-0 lead in the Series. The mood in
the Cleveland clubhouse after Game 2 was grim. Many players
burrowed into rooms that were off-limits to the media. Those who
spoke did so with muted voices and expectations. It was clear
the Indians would not slug their way past the National League
champions the way they had against American League pitching.
"They've stopped our power," said Indian hitting coach Charlie
Manuel. "Even when we get only five, six, seven hits, we can
score four or five runs with home runs and doubles. That hasn't
happened. They've shut us down."
Said Glavine, "One thing this pitching staff has always tried to
do is be the aggressor. We realize what the Indians have done,
and we respect their numbers. At the same time, we have a lot of
confidence in who we are and what we can do. We're going to go
after people, attack and attack smart."
Having previously failed as starting pitchers, and considered
questionable as closers entering the 1995 season, Mark Wohlers
of the Braves and Jose Mesa of the Indians found themselves on
common ground again in Game 3. They took turns on the Jacobs
Field pitching mound in the crucible of an extra-inning World
Series game and lasted longer than most anyone would have
Wohlers, who pitched 2 2/3 innings, and Mesa, who lasted three,
matched one another zero for zero on the scoreboard and very
nearly mile per hour for mile per hour on the radar gun.
Wohlers's fastball topped out at 100 mph, with Mesa's heater
right behind, at 98 mph. Between them they threw 92 pitches and
left the deciding run in scoring position four times.
The duel might have continued until Cleveland froze over--not
such an outlandish idea, given a temperature, including
windchill factor, of 29 degrees at the start of the game--but
Atlanta manager Bobby Cox finally cried uncle. After using
Wohlers in the eighth, ninth and 10th innings, Cox sent Pena out
to start the 11th. In 14 pitches the game was over. "Getting
Wohlers out of there," said Hargrove, "gave us a better chance."
Pena never got an out. He allowed a double to Baerga,
intentionally walked Belle and gave up a first-pitch single to
Murray that scored pinch runner Alvaro Espinoza for a 7-6
Cleveland victory, four hours and nine minutes after the game
had begun. It was the third-longest Series game ever, its length
made possible by the remarkable staying power of two closers.
"Wow," marveled Hershiser. "How often do you see two closers
throwing a hundred miles an hour for three innings?"
So thrilling was the show that both relievers emerged smiling.
"That was a pretty good duel," Wohlers said. "Man, he's tough. I
appreciate what he did."
"It was exciting," said Mesa, who was credited with the victory.
"That man throws harder than me. It's a great story. He and I
were both question marks in spring training, and now here we are."
Wohlers, 25, entered this season with seven career saves and a
reputation for throwing an inconsistent fastball. He blossomed
into not only a reliable closer but also a dominating one, as
evidenced by 90 strikeouts in 64 2/3 innings. He had begun his
pro career primarily as a starter but moved to the bullpen after
going 3-8 with a 6.08 ERA for two minor league clubs in 1989.
"The last time I pitched this long?" Wohlers said after his
taxing stint. "Probably when I was a starter. And this would
have been one of my longer starts too. I can't remember the last
time I faced the same hitter twice."
Wohlers pitched more innings in Game 3 than did Smoltz, the
starter for Atlanta. Smoltz departed after 2 1/3 innings in which
he allowed six hits--including four straight in the third
inning--as the Indians opened a 4-1 lead.
The Braves pecked away at Cleveland's Charles Nagy and, with
three runs in the top of the eighth, eventually forged ahead
6-5. When McMichael retired Thome on a pop-up to start the
bottom of the eighth, the Braves were five outs away from
assuming a three-games-to-none lead--a historically
insurmountable advantage; all 18 teams that had led a World
Series by that margin had gone on to win the world championship.
McMichael, though, invited trouble when he walked Ramirez. Paul
Sorrento followed with a single that moved Ramirez to third.
That's when Cox summoned Wohlers, who in '95 had limited the
first batters he faced to an .097 average (6 for 62), the best
such average in the National League. This time Alomar tied the
game when he sliced a double inside first base on a late
swing--so late, said Wohlers afterward, that "he hit the ball out
of the catcher's glove. I guess that's what this game is all
about. You can feel pretty good about making a pitch and the
result can humble you."
Wohlers did obtain two huge outs to keep the game tied. Enter
Mesa, the 29-year-old righthander who was 27-40 in his career as
a starter before Cleveland tried him in the bullpen last year.
He did so well in a setup role that the Indians decided to try
him as a closer this year. Mesa responded with a
major-league-high 46 saves in 48 opportunities.
Mesa encountered trouble in the first inning of his first World
Series appearance. Atlanta put runners at first and second with
two outs for Jones, who pulled a line drive between first
baseman Herbert Perry and the line. Perry, who throws
righthanded, stabbed at the ball with his glove and snared it
just as it took one hard but true bounce. He easily beat Jones
to the bag for the third out. "That was the biggest play of the
game," Mesa said. "Wohlers was still around, so you know that if
they scored there, the next inning would have been one-two-three.
"When they brought me in, they said I'd go into a second inning.
I didn't know about a third one." Only three times in his 62
regular-season appearances had Mesa pitched more than one
inning. He was ready to throw a fourth inning this night,
despite his 52 pitches. "This is the World Series," he said.
"It's different. We could not afford to lose this game."
Hargrove, meanwhile, said he would not have extended Mesa
another inning. It became a moot point when Pena, his
36-year-old right arm bringing lower-octane heat in Wohlers's
stead, could not prolong the long, cold night. "I throw the
fastball," Pena said. "If they hit it, they hit it."
Murray's single marked the 46th time a World Series game ended
with the winning run scoring. Pena has lost two of those
sudden-death games for Atlanta, having thrown the pitch that
Gene Larkin of the Minnesota Twins lofted for the long,
bases-loaded single that ended the 1991 World Series. "It's part
of the game," Pena said. "Sometimes you're up, sometimes you're
The words from Cox were simple enough--"Thanks, good job," he
said--but Steve Avery understood their deeper meaning when his
manager uttered them in the Braves' clubhouse after Game 4.
Avery had thrown six strong innings in a 5-2 win. "I understood
what that meant to him," Avery said. "I could tell. He showed a
lot of confidence in me."
All Cox had done was risk a lifetime of second-guessing by
starting Avery, a 7-13 pitcher during the regular season, in
Game 4 rather than bringing back Maddux on short rest. Had Cox
done the latter, he would have positioned the best pitcher of
his era to make as many as three starts in the World Series,
including Game 7 if it was needed.
Though Cox had leaned toward starting Avery as far back as
the night Atlanta clinched the National League pennant--the
lefthander threw six shutout innings against the Cincinnati Reds
in that clincher--Cox wavered slightly, especially after Maddux
threw his gem in Game 1 of the Series. But after the Braves won
again to take a two-games-to-none lead, Cox told Avery he would
pitch Game 4. "I just think it's better to have them healthy,
rested and feeling good," Cox said of his starters.
Avery, 25, is a former 18-game winner, a National League
Championship Series MVP (1991) and the record holder for most
consecutive shutout innings in a League Championship Series
(22 1/3, in '92). He accomplished all of that before his 23rd
birthday. "In those days," Glavine says, "he was this kid who
pulled his cap down almost over his eyes and seemed almost
oblivious. You could have set off a bomb next to him and he
wouldn't have known what happened."
This season, though, Avery began to doubt himself while losing
more games than he ever had before. His ERA soared as high as
5.14 after the Colorado Rockies pummeled him for seven runs in
less than three innings on Sept. 12. Mazzone said Avery "got a
little impatient with his location when things weren't going
right." But Avery, somewhat mystified, said, "Even though it's
hard for a lot of people to believe, I'm not that much different."
In a turnaround that even Cox found inexplicable, Avery suddenly
found his old form. In four starts beginning on Sept. 18, he
went 2-0 with a 1.00 ERA over 27 innings. That's why Cox gave
him the ball in the Series, though Cox clearly grew agitated
explaining the move to the national media in the days preceding
Avery came out pumping fastballs, and the Indians were ready for
them. In the first inning Lofton and Omar Vizquel smacked line
drives, though right at Atlanta fielders for outs. Then Baerga
hit a hard single. "It looked like the first three hitters were
sitting on my fastball," Avery said later--so he threw more
changeups and curveballs. "That was the least amount of
fastballs I threw in my career," he said. "They didn't prove to
me they could hit my other stuff."
Avery shut out the Indians for five innings, holding them to two
hits. Cleveland starter Ken Hill matched his counterpart until
the sixth, when Ryan Klesko launched a 400-foot home run off a
1-and-2 pitch. Cleveland responded with its own big shot: Belle
drilled an opposite-field home run off Avery to tie the game.
"By the sixth inning I could see that they had all moved up in
the box," Avery said of the Indian hitters. "I just didn't know
if I had enough left to get my heater by them." He had enough
left on an inside slider to strike out Perry with two runners on
to end the inning. It was the last of his 109 pitches.
The Braves went ahead for good--and earned the victory for
Avery--with three runs in the seventh. Marquis Grissom walked and
scored on a double by Polonia that drove Hill from the mound.
Reliever Paul Assenmacher issued an intentional walk to Jones.
One out later, Justice drilled a two-strike, two-out, two-run
single to put Atlanta ahead 4-1.
As the Braves added another run in the ninth, Cox had Wohlers up
in the bullpen even though he had thrown 2 2/3 innings the
previous night. Mazzone telephoned bullpen coach Ned Yost to see
how Wohlers felt. As Yost held the phone to his ear, Wohlers
yelled from behind him, "I'm ready! I want to pitch! I want to
When Yost gave no signal to Wohlers, the pitcher rushed over and
grabbed the phone out of his hand. "Let me get in the game!"
Wohlers shouted at Mazzone. "I want to pitch!"
Curiously, Cox acquiesced and brought his closer into a four-run
game on a night when he needed rest. Wohlers lasted only two
batters and 10 pitches--Ramirez crushed a 415-foot homer and
Sorrento hit a line-drive double. "I actually threw harder [than
in Game 3]," said Wohlers. "I have a lot of confidence in
myself. I wanted to be out there."
Cox yanked Wohlers in favor of Pedro Borbon Jr., a rookie
lefthander with two career saves who had pitched once in the
previous 23 days. No sweat. Borbon, one of only three World
Series pitchers whose fathers also pitched in the Fall Classic
(Jim Bagby Jr. and Todd Stottlemyre are the others), retired
three straight batters to earn the save.
As green as Borbon may be, he is still nearly three years older
than Avery, who had already pitched 74 1/3 postseason innings.
Avery's victory in Game 4 was his first in five Series starts,
which was as much of a relief for his manager as it was for him.
"No one wants to be questioned and pushed to the back of
the room," Avery said. "I went out there and pitched for my
teammates and coaching staff as much as for myself. It's better
to be an oh-by-the-way starter on this staff than to be Number 1
on a terrible staff. I'm honored to be part of what may go down
as one of the great staffs of all time."
This was the night the sweetest champagne--and the anxiety that
had been bottled up for five years--would finally flow. One
victory away from a world championship, the Braves sent Maddux
to the Jacobs Field mound. The peerless pitcher had gone 10-0
since Aug. 9, had lost once in his last 27 starts and had gone
18-0 in his past 21 starts on the road. There are no extra
points, free throws or tap-in putts in baseball, so this was as
close as the game gets to a gimme. It was stunning, then, to see
the Braves leave Cleveland with their bags packed to play
another game and their uniforms untouched by the spray of
champagne. They had come up dry.
Outpitched and outglared by Hershiser, Maddux allowed four runs
in seven innings and took the loss in a 5-4 defeat. The Indians,
getting a second look at Maddux in five days, crowded the plate
in an attempt to take away his changeup and sinking fastball on
the outside corner, showed more aggressiveness early in counts
and waited longer on his pitches--only one of their seven hits
off Maddux was not up the middle or to the opposite field.
National League teams, however, had tried those adjustments and
others against Maddux without success. More important to the
game's outcome was the fact that Maddux lacked the precision he
had had in Game 1. It was evident from the start, as he walked
two of the first five Cleveland batters. He had walked that many
in a game only five times in his 28 regular-season starts. "I
was not dissatisfied with the way I was throwing the ball,"
Maddux said after the game. "Obviously, I wasn't satisfied with
After the first walk, to Vizquel, Maddux retired Baerga on a
hit-and-run ground ball out. Then Belle, who had sliced a home
run into the rightfield bullpen the previous night off Avery,
took an outside fastball--it was up more than Maddux wanted--and
whacked a two-run homer into nearly the same spot, the ball
bouncing off the top of the padded wall on its way out.
Two pitches later, Maddux buzzed a fastball close enough to
Murray's mug to trim the whiskers on his mustache. Given Belle's
home run and Cleveland's obvious preoccupation with protecting
the outside of the plate, the pitch may have been the best
control Maddux showed all night. Murray glared at Maddux as if
he were a sportswriter and asked him if he was intentionally
throwing at his head. Maddux said no, as he did later in the
clubhouse when he explained that the pitch was a wayward cut
Murray made enough of a movement toward the mound to cause both
benches to empty, a sight rarely seen in the World Series. But
it was a typical baseball confrontation: no punches, no fights
and even some playfulness. Indian pitcher Julian Tavarez lobbed
the resin bag at Polonia's back.
Amid the commotion, a hatless Hershiser approached Maddux on the
grass between the mound and home plate; the Bulldog and the Mad
Dog, respectively, giving new, deeper meaning to the term
"Did you try to hit him on purpose?" Hershiser asked.
"No," Maddux said. "I'm just trying to come in."
"You can do better than that," scoffed Hershiser, and he shot
him a look that said he, too, would have the baseball in his
hands. Or as Hershiser explained later, "It's kind of like, I
can have as good control as you have."
As they had in Games 1, 2 and 3, the Braves rallied from the
early deficit to tie the score 2-2. They got one run back on a
surprise fourth-inning home run by Polonia, who had hit only 17
dingers in his nine seasons in the big leagues. When Atlanta
filled the bases with one out the next inning, Grissom bounced a
ball slowly enough toward the third base line to drive in the
tying run. The hit was Grissom's 24th of the postseason, tying a
record held by Marty Barrett of the 1986 Boston Red Sox (Grissom
would break the record with a single in Game 6). Hershiser
escaped further damage by getting Polonia to ground into a
double play, a ball Cox bemoaned as having been "hit as hard as
Maddux gave the runs right back. With one out in the bottom of
the sixth, Baerga doubled. Maddux intentionally walked Belle to
get to his friend Murray, who flied out. With two outs and then
two strikes, Maddux could not put Thome away. He left a changeup
slightly higher than he wanted, and Thome drove it into
centerfield for a single, sending the go-ahead run home. Ramirez
followed with another single, and the score was 4-2. (It would
be one of only two occasions in 44 Series innings that the
Indians had more than two hits in a turn at bat.)
With Maddux departing after seven innings, Atlanta reliever Brad
Clontz got two outs in the eighth before Thome uncorked a
436-foot bomb that made the score 5-2. That home run turned out
to be even more huge than its footage indicated when Klesko hit
a two-run ninth-inning home run off Mesa, who had permitted no
homers to lefthanders in 126 at bats during the regular season.
Klesko became the first player to hit a home run in three
straight World Series games on the road.
It was the third time in this decade that the Braves played a
game that, had they won it, would have clinched a world
championship for them. The other two came in 1991. Each of those
losses came by one run. Three pitchers had started those three
games: Avery, Smoltz and now Maddux.
"It seems like nothing comes easy for us," second baseman Mark
Lemke said. "There are nine of us left from '91, but we've got
so much new blood in here, this feels like the first time. What
we have to do is put the past Series behind us."
This night marked the first potential world championship
clincher in which the Braves gave the ball to Glavine, whose
wealth of experience with the team belied the fact that he had
not yet turned 30.
Glavine played with Ken Griffey Sr., Ted Simmons and Bruce
Sutter, endured the Braves' 106 losses in 1988 and claimed the
longest continuous service with the current club. On the night
daylight saving time ended, it was Turn-Back-the-Clock Night. "A
lot of people have come up to me and said this is the perfect
game for me to pitch," Glavine said on the eve of Game 6.
In the perfect spot, Glavine nearly threw the perfect game. Over
eight innings he allowed only one hit (a bloop by Tony Pena to
lead off the sixth), walked three batters and struck out eight.
Wohlers closed out the fifth one-hitter in World Series
history--the first combined effort and the first in a deciding
game--as the Braves finished off Cleveland and their own
torturous string of near misses with a 1-0 victory. At last,
Glavine won his second game and was named the Most Valuable
Player of the Series. He allowed two runs in his 14 innings,
lowering his career ERA in the Fall Classic to 1.83.
In Game 2, Glavine had beaten Cleveland almost exclusively with
his changeup. Before Game 6, having watched the Indians get to
Maddux with their second look at him in Game 5, Glavine wondered
if he needed to alter his approach. But on the eve of the game,
as the only players to have won the National League Cy Young
Award over the past five years carpooled home from a workout,
Maddux told Glavine not to worry.
"I don't think they adjusted well," Maddux told him. "I was off
a bit. It was more me than it was them. Just go out and pitch
your game. Don't change."
"That," Glavine would say later, "reassured me."
So Glavine took the mound intending to throw his best pitch, the
changeup, until the Indians proved they could hit it. They never
did. Glavine did not paint the lower outside corner; he coated
it with lacquer. Asked how many times Glavine ventured inside
with a delivery, Lopez replied, "I can count them on one hand."
The only mystery to Glavine's mastery was how the Indians could
lunge and flail time and time again at pitches that almost never
varied in location.
"Number one," Glavine said, "you've got to trust yourself. I've
got so much confidence in my changeup that I can stand on the
mound and tell you it's coming, and if it's a good one, you're
not going to hit it."
The Indians did not adjust throughout the Series to the way
Atlanta pitchers worked away from them, particularly with
changeups. "They knew not to challenge our hitters," said
Vizquel. "They never came inside against [us]." The Tribe
particularly struggled against Atlanta's lefthanders, hitting
just .105 (8 for 76).
The Braves obtained the only run Glavine needed in the sixth,
when Justice smashed a leadoff home run off lefthander Jim
Poole. Justice had caused a stir the previous day when he
castigated Atlanta fans, saying, "If we don't win, they'll
probably burn our houses down." It was an odd rip coming from
someone with a lifetime .203 batting average in the World Series
and no extra-base hits in his 42 at bats in the '95 postseason.
"They proved me wrong," said Justice, who was greeted by some
boos in his first at bat and then madly cheered after his home
Said Glavine, "The way I was pitching, if I kept doing what I
was doing, we weren't going to need any more runs."
After tiring in the eighth inning, Glavine told Mazzone and Cox
that he was done. The last three outs belonged to Wohlers, whose
promotion to closer in early June had plugged the Braves' last
hole. The last out, the one he had dreamed about "since I was
five years old," was too much for Wohlers to watch. When Baerga
lifted the baseball toward centerfield, Wohlers looked away into
the stands. When the crowd let loose a great cathartic roar, he
knew the Series had been secured in Grissom's glove.
"I kind of blacked out," Wohlers said. "Then I saw Javy running
at me, and I figured I'd better do something before he ran my
Almost two hours later, after a celebration that included owner
Ted Turner and his wife, Jane Fonda, Glavine kicked off his
spikes and handed them over to a Hall of Fame official for
transport to Cooperstown. It was a historic, happy ending to a
season that had begun with Glavine being booed in his home park.
The Atlanta fans had vented against him because of his
high-profile work as a player representative during the strike.
"It hurt, sure," Glavine said. "I hope now I've given them
something else to associate me with."