If I Could Turn Back Time: Atlanta Braves Edition
I absolutely loved Jim Caple’s piece today on if you could go back in time what’s the one MLB game you would go see? If I’m answering Caple’s question I think I would go with Babe Ruth’s called shot game in the 1932 World Series. It was a great game and I would love to see first hand if The Sultan of Swat really did call his home run. It got me thinking though as a Braves fan what games would I want to go back and see the most? After much deliberating, here’s my top five.
#5 Padres at Braves, August 12, 1984, The Fight Game
I bet you’re sitting there thinking, “this guy is picking a random game in August against the Padres?” You would be right, but this isn’t your typical game. This game features probably the greatest series of basebrawls in the history of MLB. Don’t believe me? Take a look at the video! How cool would this have been to see in person?
#4 Braves at Twins, October 27, 1991, Smoltz vs. Morris
This is on the short list of greatest games ever played period. In Caple’s column Indians closer Chris Perez picked it as the game that he would go see if he could travel back in time. John Smoltz and Jack Morris dueled with neither giving an inch. The Twins had the bases loaded in the bottom of the 8th and couldn’t get the game-winning run across. The Twins had their chance again in the bottom of the 9th and couldn’t get the World Series walk-off. Jack Morris refused to come out of the game and pitched a scoreless top of the 10th, ending with a gutsy 126 pitches. Gene Larkin broke through for Minnesota bringing in Dan Gladden with the winning run. It’s a game that drove 7 year-old me to tears all night, but a game 21 years later that I can truly appreciate for great baseball.
#3 Indians at Braves, October 28, 1995, The World Series One-Hitter
If Braves/Twins didn’t let me sleep because I was so sad, Indians/Braves didn’t let me sleep that night because I was so happy. This was the best Braves team I had ever seen. Tom Glavine, Greg Maddux, and John Smoltz anchored the best rotation the Braves had during the division title run. Like game 7 of the 1991 World Series, this title-clinching game in 1995 would finish 1-0. Glavine threw eight innings of one-hit ball, while David Justice hit the biggest home run of his life. The title was the feather in the cap of manager Bobby Cox after the disappointment of the previous four seasons losing in the playoffs and the baseball strike. I would have loved to have been there to celebrate with my fellow Braves fans at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium.
#2 Pirates at Braves, October 14, 1992, Sid Bream Slide Game
This is the most exciting win in Braves history and another great game that is consistently ranked in the top ten of games all time. Game 7 of the National League Championship Series against the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Braves found themselves down 2-0 heading to the bottom of the 9th. Just when Pirates fans were set to exact their revenge on Atlanta for the previous season, things got fun. Terry Pendelton led off with a single, then an error and a walk gave the Braves bases loaded with no outs. Ron Gant hit a sacrifice fly to make it 2-1. Another walk made the bases loaded once again with the hopes resting on pinch-hitter Brian Hunter. Hunter wasn’t up to the task, leaving Bobby Cox to call on backup catcher Francisco Cabrera with the bases loaded and two outs. This is what happened.
#1 Dodgers at Braves, April 8, 1974, Hank Aaron Passes the Babe
The only game on this list that actually occurred before I was born, but it is one of the biggest moments in MLB history. Hank Aaron dealt with so much in his chase of the home run record that it just added to this moment’s greatness. To have been one of the lucky one’s in attendance would have been a true honor.
Honorable Mention: Phil Niekro or Warren Spahn’s no-hitter, Randy Johnson’s perfect game against the Braves in 2004, Bob Horner’s four-homer game in 1986, Bobby Cox’s final game in 2010, Hank Aaron’s 714th home run game, and Braves at Astros 18-inning game in 2005 NLDS
What Braves game would you have liked to have attended if you have a time machine?
-Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes)