Twenty years ago tonight …
Your Office proprietors were in attendance that night, but neither of us saw Otis’ miracle grab from our seats in right-center field. The roar of the crowd informed us that we had just missed the greatest catch in Atlanta Braves’ history.
You tend to forget The Catch came in the 9th inning of a 1-0 game. Charlie Leibrandt, whose contributions to those early 90s Braves teams are often overlooked, shut out the Pirates through 8. The Braves had only one hit — a homer by David Justice.
Big Al Pena gave up Van Slyke’s thwarted blast so, with Bonds due up, Bobby called on Kent Mercker to record the final out. His second pitch was grounded weakly to first and the Braves had their first 13-game winning streak in 10 years.
We stopped by Manuel’s on the way home just as the late local news started. The lead story was the catch, and after the replay the entire tavern was on its feet chanting, “Otis, Otis, Otis!” For a few years, Atlanta was a helluva baseball town. It didn’t last long.
I was back at Manuel’s the night the Braves won the World Series. After Grissom caught the final out I leaped on to my chair and high-fived an old-timer at the next table. I was told to get off the furniture. A tepid celebration followed.