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The 1995 World Series matched the Atlanta Braves against the Cleveland Indians, with the Braves winning in six games to capture its third World Championship in franchise history (along with 1914 in Boston and 1957 in Milwaukee), making them the first franchise to win three crowns in three different cities. The Series was also Cleveland's first Series appearance in 41 years and marked the resumption of the Fall Classic after the previous year's Series was cancelled due to a players' strike.
The 1995 World Series provided the only world championship of the 1990s to the decade's most dominant National League team - the Atlanta Braves. After heartbreaking defeats to the Minnesota Twins and Toronto Blue Jays, the Braves were trying for the third time in five years to capture a title.
The Braves overcame some early inconsistency to win their division by 21 games. In the playoffs, which featured a new first round, the Braves overwhelmed the third-year Colorado Rockies, then swept the Cincinnati Reds in the NLCS (spoiling an all-Ohio World Series in the process; notably, prior to their first World Series meeting in 1948, the Indians had spoiled an all-Boston World Series by beating the Red Sox in a 1-game playoff). The team relied on clutch hitting and its powerful pitching rotation, which was made up of perennial Cy Young Award winner Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, John Smoltz, and Steve Avery.
After decades of futility, the city of Cleveland finally had a winner in town. The Indians batted over .300 as a team during a shortened regular season in which they won 100 games and won their division by a whopping 30 games. They swept the Boston Red Sox in the opening round, then held off Ken Griffey, Jr. and the red hot Seattle Mariners in the ALCS. Their offense was, and still is, considered one of the best "on paper" lineups of all time. Led by speedsters Kenny Lofton and Omar Vizquel at the top of the lineup, the Indians offense was driven by the middle of the order power of Albert Belle, Manny Ramírez, Eddie Murray and Jim Thome. Off the bench the Indians were fortunate enough to have future hall of famer Dave Winfield in his last professional season, as well as future stars Jeromy Burnitz and Brian Giles. Cleveland's pitching staff, which was made up of aging veterans such as Orel Hershiser and Dennis Martinez, was seen as their only weak point.
The Series presented an entertaining matchup between the best pitching staff (Atlanta) and the best lineup (Cleveland). It is also sometimes facetiously referred to as the "Politically Incorrect World Series", due to both teams' controversial use of stereotypical Native American nicknames and logos.
The Boston Beaneaters, a forerunner of the Braves, were also National League Champions in 1892, although this was before the World Series was instituted. They defeated the Cleveland Spiders for the title.
|1||Cleveland Indians - 2, Atlanta Braves - 3||October 21||Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium||51,876|
|2||Cleveland Indians - 3, Atlanta Braves - 4||October 22||Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium||51,877|
|3||Atlanta Braves - 6, Cleveland Indians - 7 (11 innings)||October 24||Jacobs Field||43,584|
|4||Atlanta Braves - 5, Cleveland Indians - 2||October 25||Jacobs Field||43,578|
|5||Atlanta Braves - 4, Cleveland Indians - 5||October 26||Jacobs Field||43,595|
|6||Cleveland Indians - 0, Atlanta Braves - 1||October 28||Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium||51,875|
HRs: ATL – Fred McGriff (1)
Atlanta ace Greg Maddux pitched a two-hit complete game victory in his first World Series appearance (and just the 15th 2-hitter in Series history).
The Indians scored in the first inning when Kenny Lofton reached on an error, stole second and third, and scored on an RBI groundout by Carlos Baerga. In the bottom of the second, Fred McGriff launched a tape measure home run on his first ever World Series pitch off Cleveland starter Orel Hershiser to even the score at 1–1. Both starters settled down until the seventh, when Hershiser and the Cleveland bullpen walked the first three Braves to open the inning. The Braves would take a 3-1 lead after Luis Polonia hit into a run-scoring force play and Rafael Belliard bunted a perfect suicide squeeze. The Indians scored a run in the ninth to cut the Braves lead to a single run, but Baerga lifted a pop fly that third baseman Chipper Jones grabbed near the visiting dugout to end the game.
HRs: CLE – Eddie Murray (1) ATL – Javy López (1)
Atlanta No. 2 starter Tom Glavine got the win in Game 2, aided by a big sixth-inning home run by catcher Javy López. The Indians had taken an early 2–0 lead on an Eddie Murray home run, but the Braves evened the score in the third. Lopez launched his home run in the sixth inning from Cleveland starter Dennis Martinez. The Atlanta bullpen held off the Indians in the later innings, with Mark Wohlers earning the save. The Braves thus took a 2–0 series lead, their most encouraging World Series start of the decade.
HRs: ATL – Fred McGriff (2), Ryan Klesko (1)
With the World Series moving to raucous Jacobs Field in Cleveland, the Indians got their first win. The Indians offense got back on track off Atlanta starter John Smoltz. With the Tribe already down 1–0 in the bottom of the first, Lofton singled to center and scored on Omar Vizquel's triple into the right field corner. Omar then scored the go-ahead run when Baerga grounded out. In the third, the Tribe were back at it again when Lofton opened the inning by ripping a double into the right-center field gap. Omar then got a bunt single and Baerga singled to left to drive in Lofton. Albert Belle then rolled a grounder up the middle to score Vizquel to make it 4–1. The Braves got a boost, however, when reliever Brad Clontz induced a double play groundout by Manny Ramírez to escape further damage. Solo Home runs by Fred McGriff and Ryan Klesko brought the Braves closer at 4–3. Cleveland added a run in the seventh on an another RBI hit by Baerga scoring Lofton (who would reach base in all six of his plate appearances). With a 5–3 going into the 8th, trouble brewed for Cleveland when Nagy and the bullpen gave up the lead. Marquis Grissom led off with a double off the wall. Polonia singled through the right side to drive in Grissom, sending Nagy to the showers. Chipper Jones walked, McGriff hit a deep fly moving the runners up a base, and David Justice reached when Baerga's booted his groudball, subsequently allowing Polonia to score the tying run. The inning was capped off by Mike Devereaux's RBI single giving the Braves a 6–5 lead. The Braves couldn't hold on to their slim lead either as Sandy Alomar, Jr. laced a game-tying double inside the line at first in the bottom of the 8th. The two closers, Mark Wohlers and Jose Mesa then matched zeros for the next two innings. In the eleventh, the Braves went to Alejandro Pena. Baerga immediately smashed a double and after an intentional walk to Belle, veteran Eddie Murray singled to center, scoring pinch runner Álvaro Espinoza and cutting Atlanta's World Series lead in half.
A record 18 pitchers were used between the Braves and Indians in Games 2 and 3.
HRs: ATL – Ryan Klesko (2) CLE – Albert Belle (1), Manny Ramírez (1)
Braves manager Bobby Cox controversially decided to start beleaguered left-hander Steve Avery in the critical Game 4 instead of coming back with Greg Maddux. Young Braves outfielder Ryan Klesko hit a sixth-inning home run to give Atlanta the lead. Avery was able to deliver six effective innings, only giving up a sixth-inning solo home run to Cleveland slugger Albert Belle. The Braves promptly broke the tie with a three-run seventh, with David Justice plating two of the runs with a single. An RBI double by Javy López gave the Braves an insurance run, making it 5–1. Reliever Pedro Borbón, Jr. saved the 5–2 win after Mark Wohlers ran into trouble, and the Braves were one victory away from a title.
HRs: ATL – Luis Polonia (1), Ryan Klesko (3) CLE – Albert Belle (2), Jim Thome (1)
It seemed the perfect situation for Atlanta with Greg Maddux pitching Game 5 with a chance to clinch the title, but Albert Belle slugged a two-run homer in the first inning, and the Braves lineup was held in check by Cleveland veteran Orel Hershiser who went eight innings, only surrendering two runs. Atlanta actually tied the game at 2–2 with a run-scoring infield single by Marquis Grissom in the fifth, but Cleveland got two more runs from Maddux making it 4–2. Jim Thome hit an insurance home run in the eighth, which proved necessary as Ryan Klesko homered in his third consecutive game, reducing the gap to 5–4. Klesko became the first person ever to homer in three consecutive road games, by belting homers in Games 3, 4, and 5 of the 1995 World Series. The win gave Cleveland the hope of perhaps another Braves World Series collapse and sent the Series back to Atlanta.
This game is also the most recent baseball game that ABC televised.
HRs: ATL – David Justice (1)
Controversy struck on the morning of Game 6 when Atlanta newspapers printed stories that right fielder David Justice had ripped the city's fans for not matching their motivation of past seasons. Justice, who had been struggling in the postseason, was vilified before the game, but when his sixth inning home run broke a 0–0 tie, he became a hero. Tom Glavine pitched eight innings of one-hit ball (just the 5th 1-hitter in Series history) to help earn him the Series MVP. The lone hit was by catcher Tony Peña in the sixth. Closer Mark Wohlers pitched the ninth inning, preserving the 1–0 shutout and Atlanta's coveted title when Carlos Baerga's fly ball landed in center fielder Marquis Grissom's glove. Carlos Baerga was responsible for making the last out in three of the four Cleveland losses; Games 1, 2 and 6.
In 1995, the Cleveland Indians batted .291 as a team, led the league in runs scored, hits, and stolen bases, and had eight .300 hitters in their starting lineup. However, the Tribe was held to a .179 batting average in the World Series.
After Game 6, then-Chairman of Executive Committee Bud Selig presided over the Commissioner's Trophy presentation for the first time (Selig would also do the honors in 1996 and 1997). In the previous two World Series (1992 and 1993), American League president Dr. Bobby Brown presided over the trophy presentation. Selig would become Commissioner of Baseball in 1998, allowing him to present the Commissioner's Trophy annually from that year onward.
<tr><td style="text-align:left;" colspan="15">Total Attendance: 286,385 Average Attendance: 47,731</td></tr> <tr><td style="text-align:left;" colspan="15">Winning Player’s Share: – $206,635 Losing Player’s Share – $121,946</td></tr>
Left-center field...Grissom, on the run...the team of the '90s has its World Championship!—Bob Costas calling the final out in Game 6.
Dave Justice, all is forgiven in Atlanta.—Bob Costas after Justice's Game 6 home run which would prove the deciding run.
The wind and the pitch, here it is....swing! Fly ball deep left center...Grissom on the run...Yes! Yes! Yes! The Atlanta Braves have just given you a championship!
- ↑ 1995 World Series Game 1 - Cleveland Indians vs. Atlanta Braves. Retrosheet. Retrieved on 2008-06-16.
- ↑ 1995 World Series Game 2 - Cleveland Indians vs. Atlanta Braves. Retrosheet. Retrieved on 2008-06-16.
- ↑ 1995 World Series Game 3 - Atlanta Braves vs. Cleveland Indians. Retrosheet. Retrieved on 2008-06-16.
- ↑ 1995 World Series Game 4 - Atlanta Braves vs. Cleveland Indians. Retrosheet. Retrieved on 2008-06-16.
- ↑ 1995 World Series Game 5 - Atlanta Braves vs. Cleveland Indians. Retrosheet. Retrieved on 2008-06-16.
- ↑ 1995 World Series Game 6 - Cleveland Indians vs. Atlanta Braves. Retrosheet. Retrieved on 2008-06-16.
- Forman, Sean L.. 1995 World Series. Baseball-Reference.com - Major League Statistics and Information.. Retrieved on 2007-12-09.