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1991 World Series

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1991 World Series

The 1991 World Series Logo.

The 1991 World Series was played between the Minnesota Twins (95-67) of the American League and the Atlanta Braves (94-68) of the National League between October 19 and October 27, 1991. The Series was, in some respects, similar to the 1987 World Series also played by the Minnesota Twins (against the St. Louis Cardinals), most notably in that the home team won all seven games. The 1991 World Series was ranked by ESPN to be the best ever played[1], with five of its games being decided by a single run, four games decided in the final at-bat and three games going into extra innings. With 69 innings in total, the 1991 World Series holds the current record for longest seven-game World Series ever (some of the early years had nine-game Series, extending longer).

Seven players appeared in both the 1987 and 1991 Series for the Twins: Kirby Puckett, Kent Hrbek, Greg Gagne, Dan Gladden, Gene Larkin, Randy Bush and Al Newman.

For the first time in history, both league champions had finished the previous season in last place. Before 1991, no league champion had ever finished the previous season in last place.

1991 League Championship SeriesEdit


The 1991 World Series was notable for several grueling contests, with five of its games being decided by one run and three games in extra innings (including the third game, a twelve-inning marathon which saw Twins manager Tom Kelly run out of hitters).

AL Minnesota Twins (4) vs NL Atlanta Braves (3)

1Atlanta Braves - 2, Minnesota Twins - 5October 19Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome55,108[2]
2Atlanta Braves - 2, Minnesota Twins - 3October 20Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome55,145[3]
3Minnesota Twins - 4, Atlanta Braves - 5 (12 innings)October 22Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium50,878[4]
4Minnesota Twins - 2, Atlanta Braves - 3October 23Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium50,878[5]
5Minnesota Twins - 5, Atlanta Braves - 14October 24Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium50,878[6]
6Atlanta Braves - 3, Minnesota Twins - 4 (11 innings)October 26Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome55,155[7]
7Atlanta Braves - 0, Minnesota Twins - 1 (10 innings)October 27Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome55,118[8]


Game 1Edit

Saturday, October 19, 1991 at Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis, Minnesota

Team 123456789RHE
Atlanta 000001010 2 61
Minnesota 00103100X 5 91
WP: Jack Morris (1-0)  LP: Charlie Leibrandt (0-1)  SV: Rick Aguilera (1)  
HRs:  MIN – Kent Hrbek (1), Greg Gagne (1)

The ceremonial first pitch of the World Series prior to Game 1 was thrown by retired AL umpire Steve Palermo. Palermo had been forced into early retirement when he was seriously injured by gunshot while coming to the aid of a robbery victim one night in Dallas. After the pitch, the Series umpires jogged to the mound to exchange well wishes.

The Twins struck early with two home runs (a three-run blast from Greg Gagne and a solo shot from Kent Hrbek) to take a 4-0 lead en route to a 5-2 win. Only some fine defense from the Braves saved a rout.

Charlie Leibrandt's poor performance for the Braves in Game 1 would be his only start, as the team decided to shuffle its rotation for the next games. It was not, however, Leibrandt's last appearance in the Series.

Game 2Edit

Sunday, October 20, 1991 at Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis, Minnesota

Team 123456789RHE
Atlanta 010010000 2 81
Minnesota 20000001X 3 41
WP: Kevin Tapani (1-0)  LP: Tom Glavine (0-1)  SV: Rick Aguilera (2)  
HRs:  MIN – Chili Davis (1), Scott Leius (1)

The pitching match-up featured 1991 National League Cy Young Award winner Tom Glavine against the Twins' sixteen-game winner and number two starter, Kevin Tapani.

In the bottom of the first, Dan Gladden lifted a seemingly routine pop-up toward second base. Atlanta fielders Mark Lemke and David Justice miscommunicated and collided with one another as the ball fell from Lemke's glove and Gladden reached second on a two-base error. After a walk to Chuck Knoblauch, Glavine induced a bat-breaking double play, 5-3, for two outs. But a two-run blast from Chili Davis gave the Twins an early 2-0 lead.

The Braves got a run back in the top of the second when Justice singled, was doubled to third by Sid Bream, and then scored on a sacrifice fly by Greg Olson. Controversy occurred the next inning when Lonnie Smith reached first on an error by Scott Leius. With two outs, Ron Gant ripped a single to left. Smith, playing for a record fourth team in World Series play, tried to beat the throw to third from Gladden. An overthrow to third gave Smith the base, but Tapani, backing up third, threw to Kent Hrbek at first. Gant, who had rounded first and was heading to second, scrambled back to the bag and, depending on one's rooting interests, was pulled off the bag either by Hrbek's strong tag or his own momentum. Umpire Drew Coble determined the latter, ending the inning. CBS television announcers Jack Buck and Tim McCarver were adamant in their insistence that Hrbek had pulled Gant off the bag, as was at least one Minnesota reporter. But the call stood and Hrbek and his family were harassed by Braves fans – some good-natured and some not – for the rest of the Series. Coble later said when interviewed for the 1991 World Series video that his judgment was that Gant was falling over as he headed back to the base and his own momentum caused him to get tangled with Hrbek and that was what caused him to be out.

The Braves tied the game in the fifth when Olson doubled, advanced to third on a groundout by Lemke, and came home on a sacrifice fly by Rafael Belliard. The game stayed tied until the bottom of the eighth when the unheralded Leius drilled a Glavine pitch into the left-field seats for what proved to be the game-winning home run. Rick Aguilera got the save and the Series headed to Atlanta with the Twins leading two games to none.

Game 3Edit

Tuesday, October 22, 1991 at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia

Team 123456789101112RHE
Minnesota 100000120000 4 101
Atlanta 010120000001 5 82
WP: Jim Clancy (1-0)  LP: Rick Aguilera (0-1)  
HRs:  MIN – Kirby Puckett (1), Chili Davis (2)  ATL – Lonnie Smith (1), David Justice (1)

In arguably one of the greatest baseball games ever played[citation needed], the Braves outlasted the Twins in a thrilling twelve-inning battle, the first World Series game ever played in the Deep South. This game matched Minnesota's 20-game winner Scott Erickson against Atlanta's late-season hero and NLCS MVP, Steve Avery. In the NLCS, Avery had not allowed a run to the Pirates in sixteen-plus innings. It took the Twins only two batters to end the shutout streak.

Twins manager Tom Kelly said going into the three games in Atlanta that managing without the designated-hitter rule was "right up there with rocket science."

Reminiscent of Game Two, Gladden hit another ball toward Justice. This time, Justice and Gant miscommunicated, and Gladden wound up at third with nobody out in the top of the first. Gladden then scored on Knoblauch's sacrifice fly to Justice. And the Twins would not score again until the seventh.

The Braves, meanwhile, got the run back in the second when Olson scored on Belliard's single. Justice led off the fourth with his first World Series home run, and the Braves led for the first time in the Series, 2-1. In the fifth, they scored again when Smith homered. The Braves loaded the bases but only scored one more run due to the clutch relief pitching of Terry Leach. With the score 4-1, the Braves looked to close it out. As it turned out, the game was just beginning.

Except for the run that resulted from the first-inning misplay between Gant and Justice, Avery had been quite effective. But after Kirby Puckett homered in the seventh to make it 4-2 and two other fly outs made it to the warning track, Atlanta manager Bobby Cox reluctantly sent Avery out for the eighth inning. After a Terry Pendleton error put Brian Harper on first, Avery went to the showers in favor of the Braves' regular-season closer, Alejandro Peña. Pena had been 13 for 13 in save opportunities, but he had not pitched since the prior Wednesday. The first batter that he faced, Davis, tied the game with a monstrous home run to left, leaving Avery with nothing to show for a great pitching effort.

At this point, the game got bizarre. Substitutions and double switches were used by both teams into the twelfth, when Minnesota manager Tom Kelly used up his entire bench and had to send reliever Aguilera to pinch-hit for the active pitcher, Mark Guthrie, who had never had an at bat in his major league career, with the bases loaded and two out (Aguilera flied to center). Kelly said in an interview that if the game had gone on longer, since he had used up all his relief pitchers, he would have put left fielder Dan Gladden on the mound. In the bottom of the twelfth, Justice singled to right and after Brian Hunter popped out, Justice stole second. With two outs, Lemke entered the pantheon of World Series heroes by hitting a single to left that enabled Justice to just beat the throw from Gladden. His score gave the Braves a 5-4 win and cut the Twins lead in the Series to 2-1. Jim Clancy was the winning pitcher for Atlanta while Aguilera took the loss for Minnesota.

The game lasted a then record four hours, four minutes, until broken in 2005 in Game 3 of the 2005 World Series with a time of five hours, forty-one minutes. It was the first of four games in this Series to end with the winning team scoring the deciding run in the ninth inning or later. It was also the first World Series game to be played in the state of Georgia.

Game 4Edit

Wednesday, October 23, 1991 at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia

Team 123456789RHE
Minnesota 010000100 2 70
Atlanta 001000101 3 80
WP: Mike Stanton (1-0)  LP: Mark Guthrie (0-1)  
HRs:  MIN – Mike Pagliarulo (1)  ATL – Lonnie Smith (2), Terry Pendleton (1)

Because Game 3 had ended after midnight, Lemke became the first player in history to win two World Series games in the same day. Game 4 matched up Jack Morris against Atlanta starter John Smoltz, a former Detroit prospect who had idolized him while a youngster.

As was the custom in the first three games, the Twins scored first. In the second inning, Harper scored on Mike Pagliarulo's double. The Braves tied it in the third when Pendleton hit his first ever post-season home run. The Braves appeared ready to take a lead in the fifth when Smith singled and stole second. A double by Pendleton sent Smith towards the plate, after Smith committed a huge error by going back to tag up (the ball appeared that it might have been caught by Puckett, but took off and went over his head). The throw to catcher Harper was online and Harper caught the ball, tagging Smith and holding onto it as Smith plowed over Harper at full speed. The collision sent both sprawling, but Harper held onto the ball and got up to ensure Pendleton, who had gone to third, did not score. The Braves now had a runner at third with one out. A few moments later, Morris unleashed a wild pitch and Pendleton sped toward home. But Harper retrieved it and tagged the sliding Pendleton for the second out of the inning. Justice popped out and Morris was out of the jam.

In the top of the seventh, Pagliarulo homered to give the Twins the lead, 2-1. But the Braves got the run back in the bottom of the inning when Smith homered off Twins reliever Carl Willis to tie the game. The game entered the bottom of the ninth still tied, 2-2. With one out and Mark Guthrie pitching, Lemke drilled a triple off the left-center field wall. Jeff Blauser was walked intentionally to set up a possible double play to force extra innings. After a series of moves by both managers, former Brave Steve Bedrosian took the mound to face veteran minor leaguer Jerry Willard. Willard delivered a sacrifice fly to Shane Mack in right field. Mack caught it and fired toward the plate. The ball beat Lemke to the plate, but he got around Harper with a hook slide, scoring the winning run that beat the Twins, 3-2. Harper leapt up and vociferously protested, but umpire Terry Tata stood by the call, and replays showed it to be correct (Harper never tagged Lemke with his glove). The win tied the Series at two games apiece and ensured it would return to Minnesota.

Game 5Edit

Thursday, October 24, 1991 at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia

Team 123456789RHE
Minnesota 000003011 5 71
Atlanta 00041063X 14 171
WP: Tom Glavine (1-1)  LP: Kevin Tapani (1-1)  
HRs:  ATL – Lonnie Smith (3), David Justice (2), Brian Hunter (1)

In Game 5, it was Glavine vs. Tapani in a Game 2 rematch. And despite the final score, this contest was still up in the air until the seventh inning. For three innings, the pitchers matched zeroes, but in the fourth, Gant singled to left and Justice homered off the top of the left-field wall for a 2-0 Braves lead. Bream followed up with a walk, and Olson then hit what appeared to be a double play grounder to second. But the ball hit Bream's leg, resulting in Bream being called out for runner interference but Olson being safe at first. Lemke, the hero of Games 3 and 4, drilled a triple that scored Olson, and Lemke himself then scored on light-hitting Rafael Belliard's double. At this point, the Braves led 4-0, their biggest lead in any game in the Series.

In the fifth, Pendleton and Gant singled, with Pendleton moving to third. Then Justice hit into a fielder's choice that scored Pendleton and gave the Braves a 5-0 lead. With Glavine working on a two-hitter, the game seemed in hand for the Braves. But Glavine was not sharp in the sixth inning and wound up getting pulled from the game. Knoblauch reached on a one-out walk and then went to third on Puckett's single. A walk to Davis loaded the bases, and Glavine suddenly couldn't find the strike zone. He walked in two runs by giving bases loaded walks to Harper and Leius. Kent Mercker came on to get out of the jam and he got the final two outs with only one additional run scoring. The game entered the seventh with the Braves leading, 5-3.

Tom Kelly sent David West out to begin the bottom of the seventh. West had failed to retire a batter in Game 3 and thus had an ERA of infinity. Smith hit his third home run in three nights, all solo shots, to give the Braves a 6-3 lead. And then the floodgates opened. Pendleton and Gant walked, Justice singled to score Pendleton, and West was again taken out without retiring a batter (he would retire his first World Series hitter in the 1993 World Series with the Phillies). Hunter singled to score Gant and put two on with nobody out and an 8-3 Braves lead. After Olson popped out, Lemke hit his third triple in his last four at bats, driving home Justice and Hunter, and scoring when Belliard singled to center. The Braves ended the seventh with an 11-3 lead and the announcers began talking about the chances of the two teams in Game 6.

However, there were still two innings to be played. Davis, playing this game in right field in place of Mack, who was 0-for-15, singled. He moved to second on a ground out and scored on Al Newman's triple. In the bottom of the eighth, Pendleton doubled and Gant tripled, scoring Pendleton. Justice grounded out to the pitcher, scoring Gant, and Hunter then ended the Braves' offensive barrage with a home run.

Both managers emptied their benches to give playing time to non-starters. Thus, Randy St. Claire was on the mound pitching to Francisco Cabrera as the ninth inning began. St. Claire gave up a run when Gladden tripled and scored on a fielder's choice, but the game ended in a 14-5 Braves rout. The Braves now had their first lead in Series games, three to two, and only needed one win to clinch their first World Series since 1957. The Washington/Minnesota franchise had now lost 12 straight World Series road games dating back to 1924.

Game 6Edit

Saturday, October 26, 1991 at Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis, Minnesota

Team 1234567891011RHE
Atlanta 00002010000 3 91
Minnesota 20001000001 4 90
WP: Rick Aguilera (1-1)  LP: Charlie Leibrandt (0-2)  
HRs:  ATL – Terry Pendleton (2)  MIN – Kirby Puckett (2)

Both teams had each other in their palms. The Braves needed another win to capture the World Series. The Twins needed to win Game 6 to stay alive. The Braves put their late-season ace Steve Avery on the mound. They would be facing the Twins' Scott Erickson, who was starting on three days' rest and had been batted around by Atlanta in Game 3.

The Twins, on the other hand, were coming back to the Metrodome where they had a post-season record of 9-1 including two wins over the Braves the previous weekend. And unlike the Pirates, they would face Avery on three days' rest.

In the top of the first, the Braves got two baserunners on but failed to score against Erickson. In the bottom of the first, Knoblauch singled and Puckett tripled, scoring Knoblauch and setting the tone for the rest of the evening. Avery retired Chili Davis and now faced Shane Mack, who was 0 for 15 in the Series. But Mack now got his first hit, scoring Puckett, and giving Avery his first two-run deficit since August 25. Leius singled, putting runners at first and third, but Avery got Hrbek out to keep the score 2-0.

The Braves hit Erickson hard, but were unable to capitalize. No better example can be cited than Gant's seeming extra-base hit in the top of the third with Pendleton on first. Kirby Puckett leaped and made a sensational catch against the 13-foot Plexiglas fence, sending Pendleton back to first instead of around the bases for Atlanta's first run. Erickson got out of it by getting a ground out from Justice.

In the fourth, the Twins appeared ready to increase their lead, putting runners at second and third with one out. But Avery buckled down and retired the side to keep the game close. Another critical play occurred in the fifth when Belliard kept the Twins from completing a double play with a fierce slide. His hustle enabled Lonnie Smith to reach first. This became important when Pendleton golfed Erickson's next pitch into the seats to make the game 2-2. With two outs, Justice lifted what appeared to be a go-ahead home run for the Braves to right. At the last instant, the ball hooked foul by about two feet. Erickson retired Justice and the Twins came to bat with the score tied.

Gladden responded with a walk and a steal of second. He moved to third on Knoblauch's liner to right and scored on Puckett's center field sacrifice fly and the Twins led 3-2. The Twins kept their one-run lead into the seventh. Lemke singled to center and went to second on a wild pitch by Guthrie. After a strikeout, Smith walked and Pendleton then reached on an infield single. The Braves now had the bases loaded and one out. But the Braves scored only one run, Lemke on a fielder's choice, and Carl Willis finished the inning with a strikeout of Justice with the go-ahead run on third.

The game remained tied at three until the eleventh. Bobby Cox, perhaps sensing a long game ahead, sent Charlie Leibrandt to the mound. Leibrandt threw four pitches to Puckett. The first three gave him a 2 ball-1 strike count. Puckett, with a long reputation and history as a "hack" batter who swung at anything hittable, took the first three pitches, patiently working the count until Leibrandt threw him a weak hanging changeup on the fourth and last pitch. He launched the pitch into the left-center-field seats for a game-winning home run that tied the Series with three games apiece. That home run led to Jack Buck's now famous call of "We'll see you tomorrow night!" It would be the first Game 7 since the 1987 World Series, which was also played at the Metrodome by the Twins. With his walk-off home run, Puckett completed the game only one hit – a double – from hitting for the cycle.

Leibrandt was the losing pitcher while reliever Aguilera was the winning pitcher.

Game 7Edit

Sunday, October 27, 1991 at Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis, Minnesota

Team 12345678910RHE
Atlanta 0000000000 0 70
Minnesota 0000000001 1 100
WP: Jack Morris (2-0)  LP: Alejandro Peña (0-1)  

Game 7 was a pitching duel between Minnesota's Jack Morris and Atlanta's John Smoltz. Smoltz was a farmhand in Morris' previous organization, the Detroit Tigers. The Tigers traded Smoltz to the Braves in 1987 for pitcher Doyle Alexander in anticipation for a playoff showdown against the Minnesota Twins.

Scoring threats were posted and quashed with ruthless efficiency, including a heart-stopping eighth inning wherein both teams were retired with the bases loaded by double play. A slick (and rare) 3-2-3 double play between Hrbek and Harper retired the side in the top of the eighth, and Lemke returned the favor to Hrbek in the bottom of the same inning after Atlanta reliever Mike Stanton had intentionally walked Puckett, possibly leery of a sudden repeat of the previous night's heroics.

Another critical defensive play may have come in the top of the eighth, when the Braves' Smith was on first (with nobody out) and took off for a hit and run while Pendleton laced a double into the gap. Logically, Smith could have scored from first on the double, especially since he was running as the pitch was thrown. But after the batter made contact with the ball, Twins infielders Gagne (shortstop) and Knoblauch (second base) feigned starting a double play by pretending to force out Smith at second. Smith hesitated, then ran to third while the batter came to second. The trickery caused enough confusion for Smith to advance only to third where he logically would have scored and put Atlanta in the lead heading into the bottom of the inning. Smith (who did not score in that inning), for his part, insisted that he wasn't fooled, he was waiting to see if the ball would be caught.

Twins ace and World Series MVP Jack Morris kept the shutout through ten innings. A Twin Cities sports writer wrote that on that night, "[Morris] could have outlasted Methuselah." Morris successfully rebuffed several attempts by manager Tom Kelly to remove him during the game, remaining on the mound from the first pitch to the last.

In the bottom of the tenth, Dan Gladden hustled out a bloop double to left-center off Alejandro Peña, and went to third on a Chuck Knoblauch sacrifice bunt. The Braves intentionally walked Kirby Puckett and Kent Hrbek to bring up light-hitting speedster Jarvis Brown with the bases loaded. Twins manager Tom Kelly risked an inning-ending double-play by sending an injured Gene Larkin (his last bench player aside from catcher Junior Ortiz) to the plate. Larkin lofted Peña's first-pitch fastball to left-center, over the Braves' drawn-in outfielders, to score a jubilant Gladden. TV broadcaster Jack Buck called out that the Twins had won the World Series the moment the ball was struck. (A day earlier, Buck's highly understated joke that the Atlanta fans had had some "good-natured fun" with Hrbek had earned some extremely angry letters in Twin Cities newspapers, from local fans coming to the defense of their hometown hero.)

For the first time since 1962, a seventh game of the World Series ended with a 1-0 verdict.[9] This Series was also the first since 1924 to end with an extra-inning seventh-game, when the home team Washington Senators (of the Twins franchise) won it in their last at-bat. The same thing would also happen in the 1997 World Series when the Florida Marlins would beat the Cleveland Indians in the eleventh inning of game seven.

Composite boxEdit

1991 World Series (4-3): Minnesota Twins (A.L.) over Atlanta Braves (N.L.)

Team 123456789101112RHE
Minnesota Twins 511044241110 24 564
Atlanta Braves 021561841001 29 636

<tr><td style="text-align:left;" colspan="16">Total Attendance: 373,160   Average Attendance: 53,309</td></tr> <tr><td style="text-align:left;" colspan="16">Winning Player’s Share: – $119,580   Losing Player’s Share – $73,323[10]</td></tr>

Series quotesEdit

That's going to be a winner for Atlanta! The runner tags at third, here's the throw from Mack, here's Lemke ...he is, safe, safe! They called him safe! Atlanta wins and they're going to say that Harper did not tag him!

CBS television announcer Jack Buck' calling Jerry Willard's game winning sacrifice fly in Game 4.

Into deep left center, for Mitchell...and we'll see you...tommorrow night!

Jack Buck, calling Kirby Puckett's game winning home run in Game 6.

Same two teams tomorrow night...

Braves announcer Skip Caray, with an understated call of Puckett's same game 6 winner.

Puckett swings and hits a blast! Deep left center! Way back! Way back! It's gone! The Twins go to the seventh game! Touch 'em all Kirby Puckett! Touch 'em all Kirby Puckett! And the Twins have won this game 4-3 on a dramatic home run by Kirby Puckett!

WCCO-AM announcer John Gordon, announcing the same event.

The Twins are going to win the World Series! The Twins have won it! It's a base hit, it's a one-nothing, ten inning victory!

Jack Buck, calling Gene Larkin's World Series-clinching base hit in Game 7.

Peña, right foot on the rubber. You can taste the pressure here in the 'Dome as Alejandro straightens up. And the pitch to Larkin. Swung on, a high fly ball into left center, the run will score, the ball will bounce for a single, and the Minnesota Twins are the champions of the world!

Vin Scully, calling Larkin's hit on CBS Radio.

Baseball is the greatest game there is.

Twins third baseman Mike Pagliarulo, following Game 7.

It was I think probably the greatest World Series ever!

Commissioner Fay Vincent, during the World Series Trophy presentation ceremony.

I just didn't want to quit and somehow we figured out a way to win this thing.

World Series MVP Jack Morris, following his masterful performance in Game 7.

Hero in a losing causeEdit

Braves second baseman Mark Lemke, who hit .234 during the regular season, became perhaps the most surprising hero of the 1991 World Series. Lemke hit .417 in the World Series, drove in the game winning run in Game 3 (a two-out single to score David Justice, who had singled and stolen second), tripled with one out in the 9th inning in Game 4 before scoring the winning run on Jerry Willard's fly ball to right. Lemke tied Billy Johnson's 1947 record for triples in a World Series. The bat that Lemke hit for his third triple was sent to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York for display.


Following the game, CBS Sports analyst Tim McCarver consoled Atlanta fans by stating that this was an excellent team and that he expected they would "be around" for some time to come. The Braves would, in fact, go on to win an unprecedented 14 consecutive division titles, along with a World Series win in 1995 and several other Series appearances.

This was the last World Series that Fay Vincent (who resigned a year later) presided as commissioner. In Game 1, a Kent Hrbek foul pop up hit Vincent's daughter Anne in the head.



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