Right now, there are no pitches to analyze. No at-bats to scrutinize over, no umpire to yell at and no managerial decisions to question. But just because there are no new memories to be made from baseball right now, doesn’t mean there aren’t ones to relive from the past. And there are a lot of things from baseball’s past you probably don’t remember. There are little nuggets and tidbits from every game that escape your mind as the years go by, even from the most iconic games ever. Game 6 of the 1995 Braves World Series.
For example, a lot of things happened in game six of the 1995 World Series before Marquis Grissom caught the final out that put the Atlanta Braves on top of the baseball world. In the spirit of a lineup card, here are nine things from October 28, 1995 you may not remember.
Braves 1995 World Series: Jim Poole had a very strange night
Poole’s most famous contribution to this game was of course giving up the solo home run to David Justice in the bottom of the sixth that ultimately decided it, but it may not have been entirely his fault.
Right from the start, Cleveland starter Dennis Martinez wasn’t feeling it. Martinez, a 41-year-old veteran by now, got off to a really rocky start. He allowed two hits in the bottom of the first, and Cleveland’s bullpen went to work. Poole was up and throwing until Martinez escaped the jam.
When Martinez walked the first two batters of the second inning, Poole was up again. Martinez got out of that one with a pop fly and a double play, and Poole took a seat once again. Martinez was in and out of trouble all night, and as a result Poole warmed up four separate times before finally entering the game in the bottom of the fifth.
And when he finally came in, he struck out Fred McGriff on three pitches in a big spot, before vacating the mound again.
Then in the top of the sixth after Tony Pena led off the inning with Cleveland’s only hit of the game—and try to imagine something like this ever happening in today’s era of baseball—Poole was asked to bunt. It was his first career plate appearance, and it came in game six of the World Series.
Unsurprisingly, he was unsuccessful. Turns out hitting Tom Glavine is hard! He popped out into foul territory, and Cleveland’s threat ended after two more at-bats.
So to recap, Poole had to start and stop warming up three separate times, warmed up a fourth time, got into the game just to throw three pitches, sat down again, stepped up to bat for the first time in his career and sat for a little longer after that before finally getting to face Justice leading off the bottom of the sixth.
“He’s going to wear himself out just getting and down in the ‘pen,” said Bob Costas on the broadcast during the 5th inning.
And Justice took full advantage.
Braves 1995 World Series: The umpires had a brutal night
Some things never change, right? First of all, I have to start with this atrocious call in the bottom of the first. This play is almost the platonic ideal of why instant replay exists in 2020. Mark Lemke tries to steal second base and… he beats the throw. He straight up beats it.
At worst it’s a tie. “There’s no doubt in my mind that he was safe,” Joe Morgan said on the broadcast.
On the next pitch, Chipper Jones slapped a single into left field. This would’ve either put the Braves up 1-0 early, or put runners on the corners for Fred McGriff with one out.
Do the Braves score? Maybe. But they probably run Martinez’s pitch count up a little more, and maybe Poole gets in the game earlier. We’ll never know. And then there’s the strike zone.
Brutal. Just beyond terrible. It wasn’t unfair because it worked both ways, but home plate umpire Joe Brinkman was—dare I say—Greggian.
But somehow, that wasn’t even the biggest complaint of the night about him.
Braves 1995 World Series: Brinkman also had a ridiculously slow strike call.
Not only did Brinkman spend all night missing balls and strikes, he took forever to do it. In some cases a full second between the pitch being caught and the call. It was a constant theme on the broadcast all night. Costas, Morgan and Uecker were all very clear early on that this was a normal thing for Brinkman, and that slight delays should be expected after pitches. But two Costas quotes stuck out as he was getting increasingly frustrated. First, from the third inning:
“He likes to keep it his own little secret for a while.”
And then, in the sixth inning:
“I’m just going to ask him to fax the call up to the booth, it would arrive at about the same time.”
Braves fans spent the entire first half of the 1990s waiting to celebrate a championship, and Brinkman seemed desperate to prolong it even further just with his calls.
Braves 1995 World Series: Bobby Cox made a very controversial decision early in the game.
The Braves had a lot of chances to score before they finally broke through, but the best one came in the fourth. A double and a pair of walks loaded the bases with two outs for the struggling Rafael Belliard. He was 0-for-13 in the series and probably the exact guy Martinez wanted to see at the plate, maybe even more than Glavine.
Infielder Mike Mordecai was on the bench as a potential pinch hitter. He only had eight at-bats in the postseason, but he did have three hits and two RBIs. This was the opportunity to get Glavine enough run support to win the game with one swing. In today’s era of baseball with more bullpen arms this wouldn’t even be a decision. You make the change.
But Bobby Cox stuck with Belliard for defensive purposes. Predictably, Belliard popped out to shallow center field to let Cleveland off the hook. If the Indians had won the game and the series, this becomes another piece of painful Atlanta sports lore. As things turned out, Belliard made two great defensive plays later in the ballgame and vindicated Cox.
Sometimes it all works out.
The Braves missed a ton of chances to make this game less stressful
Tom Glavine put together one of the greatest pitching performances in World Series history, and man did the Braves need every bit of it. For a team who had lost its last nine World Series games all by one run, the first few innings of this game had to feel very ominous.
Two hits stranded in the first inning (admittedly one erased by a bad call.) Two walks stranded in the second inning. The aforementioned bases loaded miss in the fourth. Another two left on in the fifth. Even after taking the lead, the Braves missed a golden opportunity to put it out of reach by leaving the bases loaded in the seventh.
The “Oh no, here we go again,” energy out of all of Braves Country had to be so strong at that point. Nine World Series losses by one run in the space of five years, and you’re going to tempt fate by stranding 11 runners and going 0-for-6 with RISP?
Luckily, Glavine stared down the baseball gods and laughed with his eight innings of dominance.
Joe Morgan foreshadowed the infield fly arguments 17 years early
Yeah, this really happened. Javy Lopez popped out to shallow left field with runners on second and first and nobody out in the second. It was well out into the outfield, but the umpire called for an infield fly anyway. Sound familiar?
“There’s no such thing as too far out (in the outfield) if he’s under control, which he is.”
TIme is a flat circle, and apparently infield flies to left field in Atlanta Braves postseason games are as well.
The Indians were as loaded as any team ever
I put this one in the seven-hole intentionally, because a young Jim Thome was batting seventh for the Indians that night. Yes, that Thome. The man who ended up hitting 612 home runs and knocking in 1,699 runs was batting in the bottom third of the order.
To truly appreciate what Glavine did, you have to understand how good this lineup was. The eight members of Cleveland’s lineup (American League pitcher Martinez excluded) combined for 18,458 hits, 9,900 RBIs, 2,503 home runs, 47 All-Star Game appearances, 20 Silver Slugger awards and 409.3 WAR.
This was one of the greatest offenses ever assembled. Every single guy 1-8 had at least 1,000 career hits and at least 700 RBIs. There were no easy outs, there were no soft places to land in a tough spot.
And Glavine mowed right through them for eight innings.
Cleveland’s hardest hit ball of the night was also its first one
It’s really easy to forget this one because literally everything happened after it, but Kenny Lofton gave the second pitch of the game a serious ride. He pushed Justice all the way to the edge of the warning track with a line drive before the right fielder glided over to make a catch in the gap.
It’s worth noting that Thome hit a flyball that actually did reach the warning track in the eighth, but it looked a little bit softer off the bat than Lofton’s to open the night.
And in an era without exit velocity stats, it’s fair to suggest Glavine got his one “mistake” of the night out of the way as early as possible.
David Justice was having a terrible postseason before game six
Everyone remembers the comments he made in game six and the iconic “Dave Justice, all is forgiven in Atlanta!” line Bob Costas dropped as he was crossing home plate, but his serious struggles during the 1995 postseason are often forgotten.
When Justice entered play in game six, he was still looking for his first extra base hit of the postseason. He was hitting just .214 in the postseason before game six and mired in a 1-for-14 slump in the World Series itself.
But like Costas said, all was forgiven with one swing. And that’s something nobody will ever forget.
Thanks for reading about the Braves 1995 World Series. If you enjoyed this piece, take a look at our piece on one of our favorite Braves Minor League Teams.