As the Atlanta Braves headed into Game 6 of the 1995 World Series against the Cleveland Indians, I think it's pretty safe to say that tensions were pretty high and a bit of anxiety was starting to set in throughout the vast spread of Braves Country. After all, the Braves had already made it to the World Series twice in this decade, and had failed both times in painful fashion.
In addition, they just saw the vaunted Indians offense get to Greg Maddux (who, as I stated in this piece, was pitching out of his freaking mind in 1995), and star outfielder David Justice didn't help matters by giving the AJC a fastball that they proceeded to knock into the stands by saying that the fan support wasn't as good as it was during the 1991 and 1992 World Series. So as they say in England, it was getting to be "squeaky bum time" for the Braves at this point. They needed to win Game 6. Even though the Braves were still going to have home field advantage for the rest of the series, this absolutely could not go to Game 7.
Fortunately for the Braves, that's where Tom Glavine stepped in. Glavine was given the starting nod for Game 6, and even though he delivered a solid performance in Atlanta's victory in Game 2, that was just a prelude for the utter masterpiece that he gave us in this game. After a clean first inning of work, Glavine walked Albert Belle. Belle's time on the basepaths was short-lived, however, as Javy Lopez ended up throwing him out on a failed hit-and-run. Glavine proceeded to strike out the rest of the side, and the tone was set for the rest of the game as far as Glavine and the Indians' hitters were concerned.
Meanwhile, the fired-up crowd at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium gave David Justice a mixed reaction for his first plate appearance of the game. However, those jeers turned to cheers when Justice reached base with a walk against Cleveland starter Dennis Martinez. The biggest cheers of all would come later on for Justice, though.
The game itself devolved into an utter pitcher's duel, as Glavine completely shut down the Indians offense, while the Braves were only able to manage a handful of baserunners for most of the game. After Glavine escaped a bit of trouble in the top of the 6th inning (in which Kenny Lofton managed to get into scoring position with a stolen base), David Justice returned to the plate to lead off the bottom of the sixth inning.
Now, Dennis Martinez had pitched a good game, but he was shaky, and by this point in game, Cleveland reliever Jim Poole had entered the game. It was still 0-0 at this point, but after a few pitches, David Justice proceeded to crush a ball into the autumn Atlanta sky. Just like that, it was 1-0 Braves, and David Justice went from being the most controversial Atlanta Brave of the day to one of the most beloved Braves in the team's history in Atlanta.
With the way that Tom Glavine was pitching on this particular night, that was all of the run support that he needed. From that point forward, the powerful Indians offense only managed one more baserunner for the rest of the game. Glavine ended his night after the top of the eighth inning with two flyouts and a groundout. For the night, Glavine's line was 8 IP, 8 Ks, 3 BBs, and only one measly hit allowed over 109 pitches. It was a performance that was worthy of a trophy, but there was still one more inning of work needed for the Braves to eventually bring home that trophy.
Mark Wohlers came on for the top of the ninth to potentially close out the Indians and the 1995 World Series. Kenny Lofton recorded the first out after Rafael Belliard made an excellent defensive play in foul territory. Paul Sorrento was called on for pinch hit duty as the Indians' second hitter of the inning. It was no use; He flew out to center field. Carlos Baerga came up to the plate as the Indians' last hope. Wohlers snuffed out that hope by getting him to fly out to center, which is where Marquis Grissom secured the ball into his glove and clinched the Braves' first World Championship in Atlanta.
The five-year journey towards a World Series championship had come to a climax, and judging by Bob Costas' comments as Grissom caught the last out of the Series, we all figured that this wasn't going to be the end of the World Series glory for the Braves. Unfortunately, the Braves lost both of their next two World Series appearances to the New York Yankees, and haven't been back since 1999. Still, there's one thing that can never be taken away from the Braves franchise and their fans across the South and the country in general, and that's the glory of 1995. The Braves may have had better teams during that divisional dynasty and there may have been plenty of cases where the Braves blew completely winnable situations, but they pieced it all together in 1995 and that's that. They finally took care of business, and that trophy will be sitting nice and pretty in the Braves' trophy case for the foreseeable future.
It's been twenty long years since that glorious night in late October of 1995. However, the Kansas City Royals have proven that championship droughts are meant to be broken. They had to wait 30 years until they finally got to bring home the golden trophy with flags, and I'm sure that everybody who's bleeding KC blue will tell you that it's worth the wait. With that being said, I'm sure that I can speak for everybody in the Braves fanbase by saying that it'd be preferable to avoid a 30-year wait here in Atlanta. Here's hoping that the Braves can return to this level sooner rather than later, so that we can enjoy another glorious night in late October.