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Unbelievable
Steve Rushin
October 26, 1992
The Atlanta Braves earned a place in the World Series with the most stunning comeback in playoff history
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October 26, 1992

Unbelievable

The Atlanta Braves earned a place in the World Series with the most stunning comeback in playoff history

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"Next pitch, fastball high. He needs a strike now, he don't want no trouble."

The 2-0 pitch is a fastball that Cabrera sends screaming into the seats down the leftfield line. "Hard fly ball," he says. "But foul. Now I have one strike. I got the green light."

Hit it over the shortstop. Says Cabrera, "I remember that."

The 2-1 fastball is up. It is out over the plate. Cabrera is hacking. He drives the ball toward shortstop Jay Bell. On the TV it looks to Smoltz as if Bell has caught the ball and the Pirates have won the pennant, but then he feels the room shake and hears the crowd scream bloody murder, and he sprints down the tunnel to the Brave dugout.

Justice has scored to tie the game, and Bream is being waved around behind him: Sid Bream, slower than bread mold, as they say. Bonds throws the ball on a line maybe six feet inside the third base line, and catcher Mike LaValliere makes a sweep tag as Bream slides, and it's too close to call with the naked eye. But Marsh does anyway, and he is right: Safe!

All hell breaks loose. Mounted police spill instantly from openings in the walls down both foul lines. Caray is shouting into his mike, "Braves win! Braves win! Braves win! Braves win!" and you can't help but think of Russ Hodges and "The Giants win the pennant!" Caray's call is heard on car radios by a thousand or more saps who left in the eighth inning to beat the traffic.

It is impossible to hear anymore, until the crowd is spent. On WGST, Caray's partner, Joe Simpson, says, " Andy Van Slyke is sitting in centerfield. He can't believe it. Neither can I."

Can't believe it. That is all you hear when you can finally make out individual voices in the throng of paid customers. Un-believable. Un-freakin'-believable. Do you believe that?

"Unbelievable," says Gant in the tumultuous Atlanta clubhouse. Soon typesetters will be putting the word into a headline at the Atlanta Constitution: UNBELIEVABLE! At the Comfort Inn on International Boulevard downtown, someone picks out letters for the marquee outside: CONGRATS BRAVES. And the afterthought: UNBELIEVABLE.

The exuberant Cabrera appears on the verge of sobbing with happiness when the media mob finally leaves him in the Atlanta clubhouse. He says he will enjoy being famous: He likes to sign autographs and loves to talk to people, and he always picks up American magazines but never sees himself in them. Now maybe he will.

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