Bream's Slide Decades Ago Dashed Pittsburgh's Playoff Hopes
DAVID GREENE, HOST:
And staying with baseball, let's meet a man who was once closer than anyone to victory and defeat in the same game. It's 1992, the last time the Pittsburgh Pirates were in the post season. They are one out away from the World Series. Atlanta is batting. And this happened.
(SOUNDBITE OF 1992 NATIONAL LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES)
SKIP CARAY: Swung, line drive left field. One run is in. Here comes Bream. Here's the throw to the plate. He is - safe! Braves win! Braves win! Braves win! Braves win!
(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERS)
CARAY: Braves win!
GREENE: The man scoring that run? Sid Bream. The Pennsylvania native was a former Pirate playing for the Atlanta Braves. His slide - safe, at home plate - became known to Braves fans simply as The Slide. For Pirates fans, it became known as the Bream Curse. Pittsburgh was kept out of the playoffs for two decades - until this year.
So we decided it was time to reach out to someone. Mr. Bream, thanks for coming on the program.
SID BREAM: David, glad to be here with you.
GREENE: It is a little strange to hear your voice, I have to say. I think a lot of Pittsburgh fans - like myself- look at that moment as maybe the most painful sports memory in my entire life. But I'm wondering, how do you remember it?
BREAM: Well, I mean, obviously for myself as a baseball player, I mean, it was one of those defining moments in my career. In the Pittsburgh area, when I go out in public, I mean, it's still talked about. Thankfully this year, they've finally broken the Bream curse and now, we're looking forward to the next step, seeing whether they can continue to progress and get to the World Series themselves.
GREENE: Yeah - does this finally mean you can go to the grocery store and, like, not have to wear a disguise or something? You can get food at restaurants without people attacking you?
BREAM: Well, I've never had to worry about my disguises. But, I mean, I've certainly heard the comments from time to time in regards to, you really messed up my life - I mean - when you slid home; and, you messed up my honeymoon - I mean, and you know, those types of comments. I mean, I've heard plenty of them. As I've told people, you know, I said if you're still messed up from it, then I feel sorry for you; and you need to get a life.
GREENE: OK. I'll take your advice. I mean, I bring up my childhood, kind of, you know, half-jokingly. But when people do approach you and tell you that, you know, you brought them so much sorrow, is there some sense of guilt? Or what's the emotion?
BREAM: I just tell people, I said, you know, as far as that's concerned, I mean, if you were in the same position you would've done the exact, same thing that I did. And I share that in the same token as I share with the guy that was in Chicago the night that he reached, you know, right there at the railing and, you know, stopped Moises Alou from catching that ball.
I said, you know, anybody would've been in that same position would've done the exact, same thing. You can't do anything about it. You just live.
GREENE: OK. Curse is over. The Pirates are back in the playoffs. The Atlanta Braves also in the playoffs this year. You live outside Pittsburgh. Who you rooting for?
BREAM: I hold the Fifth on that one. I - (Laughter) - you know, the Braves actually asked me, you know, to come down and throw out the first pitch...
BREAM: ...if that series got going, and I told them that I can't do that. I can tell you this, David. I am rooting for the Pirates, and I am rooting for the Braves. And, you know, if the two come together, I will just bow down; and I will just say, hey, wish you the best - to both teams, and you know, whoever goes on from there, good luck to you all.
I am excited for the Pittsburgh Pirates, and more so for the city of Pittsburgh because, I mean, they have been torturing through 20 years of management that really has not done a whole lot to provide a winning team.
GREENE: OK. It's just you and me here, Pittsburgher to Pittsburgher. I mean, it was pretty close at the plate in '92. Were you really safe?
BREAM: I have no doubt in my mind that I was safe, David. Sorry about that, buddy. I mean, I know you're reaching, I know you're trying. But, I mean, I was safe. You're not going to get me on that one.
GREENE: Well, Sid Bream, I don't know if this is important to you or not, but it feels good for me to say that I forgive you.
BREAM: Well, I appreciate that, David. I hope you can get some sleep tonight, OK?
GREENE: I'll try.
BREAM: I know I've been sleeping peacefully ever since that day and hopefully, you can do it as well now.
GREENE: Former baseball player Sid Bream who no doubt remembers the song in Pittsburgh in 1979, the last time the Pirates won the World Series. It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm David Greene.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WE ARE FAMILY")
SISTER SLEDGE: (singing) We are family. I've got all my sisters with me... Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.