As Smith searched, Chuck Knoblauch, the second baseman, crouched as if fielding a ground ball, then threw an invisible baseball to shortstop Greg Gagne, who raced to cover second base, finishing the pantomime double play. A legend was born: Knoblauch deked Smith. It may have looked that way on television, especially with broadcaster Tim McCarver telling the world that's what had happened, but it wasn't true.
"In no way was I faked out by Knoblauch." Smith says. "If I did think Knoblauch had the ball, why didn't I slide?"
Leftfielder Dan Gladden, his back to the infield, chased the ball. Smith pulled into second standing up and rounded it, stopping four steps past the bag. He then froze, staring into left centerfield. Puckett, the centerfielder, was nowhere near the ball, but his reputation for the impossible catch—only the night before he had made a leaping grab to take away a home run—made Smith indecisive.
"What people don't realize is that I had played in Kansas City," Smith says. "I saw Kirby run down the ball many times."
Up in the clubhouse Smoltz yelled at the television—and at Smith—"Go! Go! Go!'
Smith, still staring into the outfield, took two more hop-steps. Jimy Williams, the third base coach, never gave Smith any direction, never moved in the coaching box. Finally, only after the ball had bounced in front of the wall (about 20 feet from Gladden), off the wall, into the air like a little pop-up and eventually into Gladden's glove, Smith took off for third base. Gagne circled into the outfield to take Gladden's throw as Williams finally threw his left hand up and pointed at third base with his right hand, the signal for Smith to stop there. Pendleton easily pulled into second with a double.
Smoltz came running down those four flights of stairs, back to the dugout. "I wanted to watch us score some runs," he says, "because I knew the game was over if we scored. Lonnie's play didn't bother me. It was like, We're going to score. Second and third, no outs, and we've got our boys coming up."
Ron Gant, the number three hitter, failed for the third time that night with two runners on, grounding meekly to first base.
David Justice was up next. Kelly came out to the mound, a daring move, according to Harper. "I learned early that you're better off not talking to Jack when he's on the mound."
"When they'd come to the mound, I didn't want to hear nothing," Morris says. "I already knew I was in trouble. You got something to say to me? Tell me between innings on the bench. I'm embarrassed when you're out there. I know I suck. That's why you're out there."