Saturday, March 15, 2008

sid bream

Sid Bream from Baseball Almanac

Braves announcer Skip Caray: Swung, line drive left field! One run is in! Here comes Bream! Here's the throw to the plate! He! Braves win! Braves win! Braves win! Braves win!...Braves win!

Sidney Eugene "Sid" Bream was born August 3, 1960 in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. And he's generally recognized as the player that broke Pirate's fans hearts the most with his game winning slide in the 1992 NLCS (although Pittsburgh rooters dispute the call to this day.) An odd choice for a torch bearer for the Bucs, no?

Well, not really. Bream played for 4 teams in his career (LA Dodgers, the Pirates, Atlanta Braves, and Houston Astros), batting .264 with 90 HRs and 455 RBIs in 12 NL seasons. He was known as a slick fielding first baseman and perhaps the slowest human to ever don a major league uniform. His knees were alleged to be as arthritic as a decrepit granny's.

His best years were with the Pirates, where he started at first and he had career highs in hits, RBIs and HRs.

After attending Liberty University, Bream was drafted in the second round by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 1981 amateur draft. He tore up the minors, hitting .329 with 83 home runs and 407 RBI, including a .419 on-base percentage and a .537 slugging percentage in the Dodgers farm system.

He made his LA debut in 1983, but proved to be just an average MLB hitter. The Dodgers finally gave up on Bream late in the 1985 season and traded him and Cecil Espy to the Pirates for Bill Madlock, who was on the backside of his career.

It was in Pittsburgh where Bream finally got a chance to play every day. In 1986 he set an MLB record with 166 assists at first base. He usually batted in the six spot, averaging 12-15 HRs and 65-70 RBIs. Bream won the Fred Hutchinson Award in 1990 after coming back from a serious knee injury.

He became a platoon player after the injury, sharing time with Gary Redus. Bream went 4 for 8 with 2 walks and 3 RBIs in the 1990 NLCS, but Pittsburgh lost to the Reds *sigh*. Overall, he hit .269 with 57 HRs, 293 RBIs and 243 runs scored in his five seasons with the Bucs.

He then became a free agent and signed with the Atlanta Braves, as the Bucs were committed to Orlando Merced as their first baseman of the future.

Bream suffered through more injuries in Atlanta, limiting his playing time. But he did participate in two World Series, in 1991 and 1992. In the two years that he faced his former teammates in the NLCS, both won by the Braves in 7 games, he hit .281 with 2 HRs, 4 2Bs, 5 RBIs and 6 runs scored. That last one was a killer.

After a poor start in 1993, he became a pinch-hitter for the rest of the season, a role in which he thrived. Fred McGriff made him expendable, and Bream signed with the 'Stros as a backup to Jeff Bagwell in 1994. He hit .344 in 60+ at bats, and retired the next season during the baseball strike.

Bream was just hired by the Bucs as the hitting coach for the State College Spikes of the New York-Penn League for rookies.

And he brings a lot to the table beyond "the slide." Bream was a player that persevered in the majors. He wasn't the most athletic and God knows not the fastest player, but he accepted whatever role he was put in and succeeded at it, whether it was starting, platooning, being a backup or a pinch hitter. He fielded better than men with twice the natural physical talent.

Bream was a winner during his career, playing in four NLCS and two World Series. He knows what it takes to bring home a victory and how to play under the national limelight.

One Atlanta magazine picked him as the 24th best Brave of all time. And not just because of getting the call against Spanky, but because of what he brought to the team.

Bream was a clutch hitter, one of the better fielding first basemen in the game, and a good head in the clubhouse. A dedicated Christian, the word used to describe him in the article was "serene." And he could rake in the minors. He can share with the kids the mental aspects of baseball as well as the physical mechanics.

If Bream can bring those qualities to the youngsters he'll be teaching in State College, the Pirates will have a solid foundation to build on for the future.

(Our contribution to spring training will be highlighting the careers of the old Bucs in camp who are trying to pass on the torch to today's squad. Up next - Carlos Garcia)

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