1996 World Series — Braves and Yankees

The defending champion Atlanta Braves 96-66 managed by Bobby Cox and with general manager John Schuerholz faced the New York Yankees 92-70 managed by Joe Torre and with general manager Bob Watson in a rematch of the 1958 World Series when the Braves were still in Milwaukee.

Torre spent 18 years as a player and won a batting title with the Cardinals in 1971.

The Braves were led by Chipper Jones 30 home runs, 110 runs batted in, ,309 batting average, 114 runs scored, Fred McGriff 28 HR, 107 RBI, Javy Lopez 23 HR, Ryan Klesko 34 HR, 93 RBI, 90 RS and Marcus Grissom 23 HR, .308 BA, 106 RS and 28 stolen bases.

Pitching again was their strong point and they were led by 1996 Cy Young Award winner John Smoltz 24-8, Greg Maddux who had won the NL Cy Young Award the previous four years 15-11, Tom Glavine 15-10 and Mark Wohlers in the bullpen with 39 saves.

The Yanks featured Tino Martinez 25 HR, 117 RBI, Bernie Williams 29 HR, 102 RBI, 108 RS .305 BA, Paul O’Neal 19 HR, 91 RBI, .302 BA, twenty two year old shortstop Derek Jeter .314 BA, 104 RS and 38 year old Wade Boggs .311 BA.

Their pitching staff was anchored by Andy Petite 21-8, Kenny Rogers 12-8, Dwight Gooden 11-7, David Cone 7-2 and lefthander Jimmy Key 12-11 with John Wetteland 43 saves, 2.83 ERA and Mario Rivera 8-3, 2.03 ERA in the bullpen.

The series opened in the new Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City with John Smoltz pitching for Atlanta and Andy Pettite for New York.

The game was one sided as led by two home runs by 19 year old rookie Andruw Jones and one by Fred McGriff the Braves coasted to a 12-1 win.

The Braves continued their mastery with a 4-0 win behind Greg Maddux with Mark Wohlers on for the save and the Braves go up two games to none in the series. Fred McGriff had two hits and three RBI’s for the Braves.

Game three shifted to Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium with Tom Glavine and David Cone as the starters. It was a close game until the Yankees scored three runs in the eighth inning highlighted by a two run home run by Bernie Williams and the Yankees get their first win of the series 5-2, helped by the scoreless relief pitching of Mariano Rivera, Graeme Lloyd and John Wetteland.

In game four the Braves built a 6-0 lead after five innings but the Yankees scored three in the sixth and Jim Leyritz contributed a three run home run in the eighth to tie it at 6-6 and send the game to extra innings.

Steve Avery came in to pitch the tenth and after two walks and a single the bases were loaded. Wade Boggs walked to score the winning run and the New Yorkers tie the series up at two games each with Rivera, Lloyd and Wetteland providing scoreless relief pitching.

Still in Atlanta game five was a tightly pitched game between John Smoltz and Andy Pettite in which the only run of the game was scored in the fourth inning when Charlie Hayes reached on a error and scored on a Cecil Fielder double and the Yankees win the game 1-0 and take the lead in the series three games to two.

Game six was back in the Bronx with Jimmy Key facing Greg Maddux. In another tightly pitched game the Yankees got to Maddux for three runs in the third inning and their relief pitching of Rivera, Lloyd and John Wetteland on for his fourth consecutive save helped the Yankees win the game 3-2 and their 23rd World Series.

The difference was in better Yankee relief pitching as you can’t give up a 6-0 lead after five innings and expect to beat a team as good as the Yankees were. Joe Torre adroitly used his bullpen to full advantage.

The Yanks had defeated three future Hall of Famers Glavine, Smoltz and Maddux to gain their victory.

Wetteland got the series MVP award and the Yankees would be back in the fall classic in 1998 and the Braves in a rematch against the New Yorkers in 1999.

Besides Smoltz, Glavine and Maddux, Chipper Jones, Mariana Rivera, Derek Jeter, Tim Raines, Wade Boggs and managers Joe Torre and Bobby Cox as well as executive John Schuerholz would be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Statistics for this article were from baseball-reference.com.

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By Ron Griffitts

Contributing Columnist

Ron Griffitts a contributing columnist for the Daily Advocate.