Bream stays neutral on potential Pirates-Braves matchup
CINCINNATI — Sid Bream once broke the hearts of Pirates fans with The Slide. He refused to do it again with a pitch.
If the Pirates get past the wild-card game and advance to the National League Division Series, there's a good chance they could face Atlanta. The Braves recently asked Bream if he would throw out the ceremonial first pitch — and he turned them down without hesitation.
“Whatever their motive (for the invite) was, I don't want to be involved,” Bream said Friday by phone.
Bream played for the Pirates from 1985-90 then signed with the Braves in 1991. In Game 7 of the 1992 National League Championship Series, he slid home with the winning run that sent the Braves to the World Series and sent the Pirates into a 20-year tailspin.
“I wasn't surprised (by the offer),” Bream said. “Whether their motive was to rub it in the Pirates' faces, I don't know. I think it was just more of a gesture to commemorate those two teams getting back together in the postseason. But I'll stay neutral. I'm not going to do anything to tell the fans in Atlanta or Pittsburgh that I'm (rooting) one way or the other.”
Braves fans still celebrate what they refer to as The Slide. A large, framed photo of the moment hangs on the wall just inside the entrance to the press box at Turner Field, and the play is shown on the scoreboard there before every Pirates-Braves game.
In June 2012, before a game against the Toronto Blue Jays, the Braves gave out bobbleheads to mark the 20th anniversary of The Slide. Bream and former Pirates catcher Mike LaValliere had to give permission for their likenesses to be used.
Bream still lives in suburban Pittsburgh and frequently is reminded of how he beat the throw by outfielder Barry Bonds and LaValliere's tag.
“I get hassled about it a lot, but it's generally all in fun,” Bream said.
Bream was happy this week when the Pirates clinched their first playoff bid since 1992.
“I have been waiting for this season for quite a long time,” Bream said. “I've been waiting for management to make the right moves and keep the team together and show they wanted the team to win.”
Bream said he does not plan to attend any Pirates playoff games — at PNC Park, Turner Field or wherever — this fall.
“I will sit at home and watch, gladly,” he said. “I'm very proud of the Pirates, and I'm excited for the city.”