Home of the brave. Part one

A series about how “America’s Team” became the team to forget.

Now imagine this. Top of the 9th, one run ball game. A fly ball caught in left field gives one team the trophy and sends the other team home. Sound familiar? For baseball fans, that sounds like a fairytale ending, but for the Atlanta Braves in 1995, this fairytale became their reality. After two previous World Series appearances earlier in the decade that ended without bowls, the team finally won its first World Series. The “Team of the ’90s,” as legendary athlete Bob Costas called them, finally got its ring. But in five World Series berths between 1991 and 1999, ’95 was the only year they came off the top. And what happened? How did a team that won five marks in nine years only win one ring?

1991: The Year of Primetime

In 1991, the Atlanta Braves finished the 1990 season as they finished the year with a 65–97 record, only two games better than the team’s 63–97–1 record the previous year. 1990 would mark the third consecutive year that the Braves finished the season in last place in the NL West division. After manager Russ Nixon was fired in June 1990, the rest of the 1990 season turned into a new, but not so new manager for Bobby Cox, who returned for his second stint as Braves manager after a brief stint. general manager of the team. Cox was responsible for acquiring players such as Tom Glavine, David Justice and future National League MVP Chipper Jones, whom Cox helped Atlanta select first overall in the 1990 MLB Draft. Come the 1990 postseason, the Braves felt they had all but one very important job helping their cause.

Enter Deion “Primetime” Sanders

When Deion signed to play in the Yankees organization in 1988, he joined an exclusive group of superstar players who have bounced around multiple sports. The 1986 Oakland Raiders signing that returned Bo Jackson to the Kansas City Royals set the stage for athletes, especially football players, to try their hand at other professional sports. In Deion’s first year with the Braves, he never played a huge part in the team’s success, with just 4 home runs and 13 RBI in 31 games. Despite how happy Sanders was with the terms of his contract with the Atlanta Falcons, the team that drafted Sanders in the 1989 NFL Draft required him to return to the Falcons after July 31st in time for training camp. for: 1991-92 season. Yet, oddly enough, one of his most memorable acts with the Braves came on July 31, 1991, when he sent a three-run home run into the stands en route to a remarkable comeback against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

This play alone embodies the spirit of the ’91 Atlanta Braves. After entering the division nine-and-a-half games out of first place, the Braves came back to pull one game ahead of the Los Angeles Dodgers on the final day of the regular season to win the NL West and finish. their regular season with a 94–68 record. For the first time in nine years, the divisional postseason series will be in Atlanta, Georgia, and besides, the Braves did the impossible. In one year, Atlanta went from last place to first in their division, a feat not accomplished since the 1890 Louisville Colonels. Another team accomplished the same historic feat in 1991, but we’ll get to them. in a moment.

On their way to their first World Series in 33 years, the Braves must contend with the Pittsburgh Pirates, the only team in the National League with a better record than them. The Braves took a 2-1 series lead before the Pirates battled back to take a 3-2 lead to advance to Game 6 of the National League Championship Series (NLCS). A one-run Game 6 tied the series, and in the following Game 7, a three-run first inning would help the Braves to their first World Series since 1958. Meet them there? Who else but the only team to go from worst to first? Minnesota Twins. Like the NLCS, the World Series was quite a competitive matchup. Games 1 and 2 went to Minnesota before Atlanta bounced back to take the next three straight, including a 14-5 blowout victory in Game 5. game against Minnesota before another shutout in Game 7 sealed the deal and ended the chapter on Atlanta’s 1991 bowl hopes.

The question that has been around since 1991 is what happened. How did this stalwart of the team end up falling anyway? There are several factors you can blame for the World Series loss. Deion Sanders leaving early only to return to football midway through the season, Otis Nixon being suspended for the remainder of the ’91 season and the opening weeks of the ’92 season, or even something as simple as releasing Rick Mahler were just a few. months after it was signed. Any and all of these are possible, but that’s just because the Braves have to play the one team that was arguably better than them that season. As crazy as it sounds, in all 162 games the Braves played in the 1991 regular season, none of them were against the Twins. Minnesota was an explosive team, which they proved time and time again in regular and postseason games. Atlanta was tired after the Braves swept the Twins in Game 5, and Minnesota knew exactly how to capitalize in Games 6 and 7.

The 1991 Atlanta Braves left many fans wondering if it could be better than what they had seen that year. What many didn’t expect is that not only would it improve, but the Braves were just around the corner from history.


Quinn James Gable

Quinn James Gable

Quinn Gable is currently a student at Capital University in Columbus, Ohio, studying Public Relations and Sports Management. Quinn is an avid sports fan and in addition to watching sports, he enjoys reading and writing about the many historical elements surrounding all types of teams.

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