Editor’s note: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution will spend the year looking back at the 25th anniversary of the 1995 World Series champion Atlanta Braves. In a season-long series that will run through October, we will capture all the key moments and hear from the participants as they share their memories. Today’s installment focuses on Marquis Grissom - the Atlanta native who caught the final out in the World Series clincher against the Indians.
Marquis Grissom’s dream turned into reality with a simple phone call 25 years ago.
After spending the first six seasons of his major-league career with the Montreal Expos, the Atlanta native received a call late in the spring of 1995 that he had been traded — to the Braves.
“You talk about a dream come true,” said Grissom, who played at Lakeshore High and Florida A&M before beginning his pro career in 1989. “When I first heard about the trade, I was like … ahh man. Because I knew I was on a great team (in Montreal).”
“But then when I found out it was the Braves, it was like, OK, I’m cool. This is what I’ve always wanted.”
On April 6, 1995 — exactly 25 years ago — the Braves acquired the two-time All-Star and Gold Glove outfielder from a Montreal squad looking to purge many high-priced players from their roster. Despite having the best record in baseball at the time of the work stoppage in 1994, the Expos traded Grissom and pitcher Ken Hill while 2020 Baseball Hall of Fame inductee Larry Walker left via free agency before the start of the 1995 season.
The Braves gave up three players - pitcher Esteban Yan and outfielders Roberto Kelly and Tony Tarasco - for Grissom, who gave the team a consistent bat and speed at the top of the lineup, but Grissom initially had reservations about joining the Braves.
“Most people don’t realize, I played against them (Braves) for years,” he said. “The Braves and Expos shared the same spring training home. I’m like, “They are already great, why do they need me?” So I really didn’t know what to expect at first.”
In his mind, however, the Braves were getting much more than a leadoff hitter and solid outfielder.
“I knew the Braves would get everything I had because this is where I always wanted to be,” said Grissom, the 14th of 15 children in his family. “Do you know how long I dreamed for that to happen? And to be on a great team?”
“It was exciting to be home, but I knew it was time to go to work.”
» About the series
» FURMAN BISHER: Atlanta’s finest moment
» SPRING TRAINING: Starting with replacement players
» MARK BRADLEY: A subdued season, a giddy ending
» BUILDING THE BRAVES: How the championship team was built
» CHIPPER JONES: ‘No bigger beneficiary of ’94 strike than me’
» ANNOUNCERS: Championship call years in the making
» DAVE SHOTKOSKI: Remembering pitcher killed in spring training
The Braves were 35-25 in the first 60 games of the strike-shortened 1995 season, but had winning streaks of five, seven and nine games while rolling to a 55-29 record in the final 84 games. Grissom led the team in stolen bases (29, no other player had more than 8 steals), plate appearances and at-bats while finishing second in hits (142).
In the postseason – a first for Grissom after the ’94 work stoppage ended any playoff hopes — Grissom took his offense to another level. In the National League Division Series against the Rockies, he hit .524 with three homers and a pair of steals in four games.
In the World Series, Grissom hit .360 and had three steals in six games against the Indians. In all, he had 25 hits in 65 postseason at-bats. In the field, he was as solid as ever in playoffs, capping the third of his four consecutive Gold Glove seasons.
And then there was THE catch.
Oct. 28, 1995, Game 6 of the World Series at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium. The Braves lead 3-2 in the best-of-seven series. Then Tom Glavine’s masterpiece, David Justice’s home run and Grissom’s catch for the final out of the 1-0 Series clincher.
The moment has been replayed over and over for many years, and Grissom, who has run a successful youth baseball academy in metro Atlanta for nearly 15 years and participates in several Braves alumni activities, still marvels at the team’s accomplishment 25 years later.
“First of all, I can tell you I wasn’t dropping that ball,” Grissom said laughing. “We had a lot of great players — Hall of Fame players — and I was just happy to be a part of a great team that won it all.”
“And for me to do it at home, knowing everything I did in little league, high school, college and minor leagues to get to that point. ... Man, sometimes it’s still hard to believe.”
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