Game 7 1992 NLCS- The Sid Slides Game-The Day Winning Baseball Died In Pittsburgh 20 Years Ago Today

Sid Bream slides in ahead of Mike LaVallier's tag to win Game 7 of the 1992 NLCS. (Getty Images)

20 years ago today the infamous Sid Slides game. The Pittsburgh Pirates and Atlanta Braves, tied at 3 games apiece met in Atlanta for Game 7. The winner would go to the World Series. The Pirates behind Doug Drabek’s outstanding pitching performance led 2-0 going into the bottom of the 9th inning. 3 outs away. As a Pirate fan the next half inning would be a nightmare and it would change the way I view sports to this day.

A key event happened in the top of the 2nd inning. Home plate umpire John McSherry suffering from flu-like symptoms was replaced behind the plate by Randy Marsh. In that 9th inning Drabek before he was taken out missed a number of borderline pitches, all called balls. The thinking McSherry’s strike zone a little different they may have been strikes? We will never know.

Bottom of the 9th. Terry Pendleton led off with a triple. Dave Justice hit a routine grounder to second baseman Jose” Chico” Lind, an excellent fielder who had made only 6 errors all season. Lind made the biggest error of his life. I knew at this moment it was over. I just felt it. Sid Bream a former Pirate came up and walked on four pitches. Drabek was then pulled from the game. Enter Stan Belinda. If I had any question about the game I knew it was over now. Belinda was the closer for the Pirates but he made you nervous. Pirate manager Jim Leyland had a bullpen full of pitchers, he could have used Tim Wakefield who was unhittable earlier in the series or veteran starter Bob Walk, a clutch guy but he went with Belinda. His reasoning after the loss was weak. He said that was how they did it all year, that was how they would do it now. Ron Gant hits the ball to deep left field, Barry Bonds makes the catch, one out. Catcher Damion Berryhill a catcher slow as Moses a perfect double-play candidate comes up, Belinda is a fly ball pitcher though. He walks Berryhill. Brian Hunter comes up, he hits a soft fly into shallow center, Jose Lind catches this one. The pitchers slot is up and Bobby Cox had only one bench player left, back up catcher Francisco F’in Cabrera. Cabrera had only ten at-bats all season. Out in left field Barry Bonds moves back. Centerfielder Andy Van Slyke yells over “Move In” Bonds responded by giving Van Slyke the middle finger. With a 2 ball 1 strike count Francisco F’in Cabrera lined a ball over shortstop Jay Bell and in front of Barry Bonds.  Justice scores easily tying the game. At second you have the slowest runner in the history of the world Sid Bream. It was painful to watch Sid Bream run. Bream had five knee surgeries at this point. He rounds third and heads home. The ball had been hit almost directly in front of Bonds, he fields it and his throw home is off line, up the first base line. Pirate catcher Mike “Spanky” LaValliere catches the bouncing throw and takes a sweep at home plate and the sliding Bream. Safe. The game is over.

I did not take this defeat well. Going into the series I knew that it was do or die for the Pirates. They were going to lose their best player, Bonds and their best pitcher Drabek to free agency. The Pirates would be going into rebuilding mode. I was depressed over this loss for at least a week and a half. I don’t think I’ve ever really gotten over it. One thing it did though is change how I am as a fan. I have not invested my emotions into sports as I once did. {Of course as a Pirate fan it would be a waste of time to put too much emotion into them, they haven’t had a winning season in 20 years, not since 1992} My Steelers have since then won two Super Bowls and lost two Super Bowls. After the two Super Bowl losses I was able to go to bed right after the games ended and had no trouble falling asleep. I just can’t invest myself into sports as I once did.  This game changed how I view sports.

3 responses to “Game 7 1992 NLCS- The Sid Slides Game-The Day Winning Baseball Died In Pittsburgh 20 Years Ago Today

  1. It was a heck of game, as long as you weren’t a Pirates fan. Did Bonds really give Van Slyke the finger when the former tried to get the latter to move into a better position? If so, I can’t say I’m surprised in retrospect, given Bonds’s attitude over the years, but I can’t help but feel that there’s a little cosmic justice in the world in the fact that he never won a World Series. Hell of a player, but he must have been a lousy guy to try be in the clubhouse with.

    • According to Van Slyke,Bonds did give him the finger.. too bad it wasn’t captured by the camera’s. Great talent, of course he was a juicer. the fact he never won a World Series.. warms my heart…

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