In the fall of 1992, the Toronto Blue Jays reached the World Series for the first time in franchise history. Their opponents, the Atlanta Braves, had lost the World Series in seven games the previous October. A year later they had reason to believe the outcome would be different. With future Hall of Famers John Smoltz and Tom Glavine leading the way, Atlanta had baseball’s best pitching staff.
This week, as Sportsnet re-broadcasts the 1992 World Series, we’ll re-surface a series of articles first published in 2017. Each piece corresponds to one of the six games between the Braves and Blue Jays, highlighting notable performances and storylines from the time.
Final score: Braves 3, Blue Jays 1
Braves lead series 1-0
The biggest swing came from an unlikely source: Atlanta catcher Damon Berryhill, who hit a three-run home run off of Jack Morris at Fulton County Stadium. Berryhill’s sixth-inning homer allowed the Braves to exact a little revenge on Morris, who shut them down as a member of the Minnesota Twins in Game 7 of the previous year’s World Series.
Tom Glavine pitched a complete game for the Braves, allowing little more than a Joe Carter home run while striking out six. With John Smoltz slated to pitch Game 2, Atlanta seemed well-positioned to take a 2-0 series lead.
How it looked on Toronto TV in 1992
City Toronto’s post-game highlight pack from Oct. 17, 1992:
City Toronto’s post-game report from Oct. 17, 1992:
Toronto Star Game 1 headline from 1992:
Conventional-then-but-controversial-now managerial move:
The idea of removing Jack Morris from this game after five innings would have seemed preposterous in 1992. Not only was he a 20-game winner ahead 1-0, but his 10-inning shutout of the Braves the previous year was (and remains) the stuff of legend.
But with the benefit of hindsight and a quarter century of advances in baseball strategy, was leaving Morris in to face Berryhill the right call? Or to put it another way, would a manager leave a comparable pitcher in the game if the same situation arose now?
Let’s say Jon Lester’s through five innings on 81 pitches with the 3-4-5 hitters approaching and a fully-rested Cubs bullpen waiting for action. Today there would be no guarantee Lester starts the sixth, and he’s probably gone if two of the first three batters reach.
I get it: it was a different era, with different expectations. The decision to let Morris face Berryhill, a light-hitting catcher with a career .360 slugging percentage, was completely understandable. But I’d guess that inning plays out differently in today’s game—especially with a relief ace like Duane Ward available in the bullpen.
Game 1 Boxscore (via Baseball Almanac)