Tom Glavine still remembers it vividly, that challenge he made to his teammates during the clinching game of the 1995 World Series.
“I knew I was on my game,” Glavine said Wednesday. “The truth be told, it’s not like that was the one and only time I did that in my career. From time to time as a pitcher, you’re feeling your oats a little bit in a tight game."
Of course, he quickly added: “It’s one thing to do that on a Sunday afternoon in August. It’s another to do it in Game 6 of the World Series.”
Glavine was true to his word. The Hall of Famer pitched one-hit ball over eight innings, David Justice homered and the Braves clinched the series with a 1-0 victory over the Indians.
It was the first major sports championship for the city of Atlanta, and it remains the Braves’ only World Series title since moving to the Deep South in 1966.
With sports on hold during the coronavirus pandemic, Fox Sports Southeast will mark the (almost) 25th anniversary of Atlanta's most triumphant sports moment by airing the entire series over six straight nights beginning Monday.
Ryan Klesko, who homered three times in the series, looks forward to watching it with his 11-year-old son.
“He knows about those three homes runs,” Klesko said during a conference call with Glavine. “He’s seen the Ryan Klesko at-bats compilation, but he’s never gotten to watch me play a whole game.”
In the first postseason of his career, Klesko became the first player in World Series history to homer in three straight road games.
It was the only title of his 16-season career.
“I figured we would do it again and again,” said Klesko, now 48. “Unfortunately, it didn't happen that way.”
The Braves were still in the early years of a record 14 straight division titles when they claimed their spot against the Indians. They had come up short in the 1991 and ’92 World Series, were upset by the Philadelphia Phillies in the 1993 NL Championship Series, then saw any hopes of another playoff run dashed by the 1994 players strike.
The labor dispute wiped out the entire postseason and delayed the start of the '95 season, too. When it finally began in late April, Glavine couldn’t help but notice a different reception from Atlanta fans who had worshiped the team before the players walked.
“There was a lot of animosity toward baseball coming off the strike,” said Glavine, who was a leader of the players' union. “I think it was equal animosity toward the players and owners, but the players felt it a little bit more because we were in the stadiums. When people in the stadium are upset with you, they can voice that."
The Braves claimed the NL East title by 21 games and breezed through Colorado and Cincinnati in the league playoffs to set up the series against the Indians.
Even with a team that included five future Hall of Famers (Glavine, Greg Maddux, John Smoltz, Chipper Jones and manager Bobby Cox), Atlanta looked like the lesser club against a Cleveland squad that went 100-44 and boasted a dynamic lineup led by Albert Belle, Manny Ramirez and Jim Thome.
Five Cleveland players hit more than 20 homers, paced by Belle with 50. Six players batted better than .300.
“They had a bomb squad,” Klesko recalled. “We were definitely the underdog in that series."
The Braves boasted one of the greatest group of starting pitchers in baseball history. That proved to be the difference.
Maddux pitched a two-hit complete game in the series opener. Glavine won both of his series starts, allowing just two runs and four hits in 14 innings to earn the MVP award.
Any hard feelings for his role in the players' strike have long since faded.
“I'll be out out somewhere and somebody will come up to me, shake my hand and say, ‘I just want to thank you,’” the 54-year-old Glavine said. “They'll go back to '95 and talk about how they were a lifelong Braves fan, how they were at the game that night, how much it still means to them as Braves fans and Atlanta fans that they got to see that.”
Especially with what's happened since then. Despite 15 postseason appearances in the last 24 years, the Braves haven't been able to capture another World Series title.
“I'm glad we got to do it once,” Glavine said. “I wish we had gotten to do it more.”