May 29, 2024

Recalling the spectacular 1992 World Series that Deion Sanders and the Braves nearly won but didn’t

There was nothing quite like Deion Sanders in the 1992 World Series.

“Prime Time,” the two-sport athlete who serves as Atlanta’s fourth outfielder, hit.533 with five stolen bases and four runs scored in 17 plate appearances against the Blue Jays. He is the only player in World Series history to hit at least.500 and record at least five stolen bases.

Even so, Toronto prevailed in six games.


This Day in Braves History: Atlanta trades Deion Sanders to the Reds -  Battery Power


In light of the current World Series and Coach Prime’s notable accomplishments as the head football coach of Colorado, we thought it would be fun to look back on Sanders’ memorable postseason run. Of course, we’re not the only ones. However, it’s unlikely that anyone else is examining the past through the lens of The Sporting News archives, and those pages reveal a narrative that goes beyond the record World Series output.

The fact that there was really no reason to think Sanders would be a big star in the World Series only serves to highlight how outstanding his performance was. This August drama will go on and on. Would he pick the Falcons or the Braves, or would he find a way to do both?but be aware that Sanders was hardly ever on the baseball pitch once the NFL season began.

Sanders participated in four games for both the Falcons and the Braves in September. And, people, he was A LOT better with the Falcons, beginning a campaign that would culminate in his first-ever selection to the All-Pro first team in his football career.

He had two at-bats and three pinch runs for the Braves during the month. But Deion wanted to play in the postseason more than anything else. He had not been a member of Atlanta’s postseason team in 1991.

“Watching us continue while I sat on the sidelines broke my heart. I didn’t participate in it last year, but I believe I can play a significant role in the Braves’ success this year. As stated in the Braves team notes section of the Sept. 7 issue, “I want to make the difference.”

Recall that Sanders experienced what was, by far, his best baseball season up to that point in 1992. Despite having only played in 97 games, he batted and led the NL in triples with 14.304 with 28 RBIs, 8 home runs, and 26 stolen bases. Naturally, there were no advanced stats available at the time, but he still had a 130 OPS+ and 3.2 bWAR. In every way, he was a significant influence.

He was therefore added to the Braves playoff roster with the understanding that he would be available for every Atlanta postseason game. The NLCS then took place. Sanders was a rare player for the Braves. On Sunday, October 11, he did, however, play for the Falcons in Miami before taking a plane to Pittsburgh, where the Braves were playing the Pirates in Game 5.

He did not play; he arrived seventeen minutes before first pitch. The two sports in one day gambit was allegedly sponsored by CBS and Nike. The Braves did not take kindly to that. They assumed Sanders intended to limit his activities to baseball during the postseason. Sanders claimed to be at every game, as stated in the Nov. 2 issue, and in a sense he was

This story, titled “Sanders refires the Braves’ ire,” appeared in the October 19 issue of The Sporting News. Atlanta ultimately won the NLCS in seven games, thanks to a rather memorable final play.

“Why should we volunteer to play with only 24 guys if one guy gets a (football) helmet in the knee (and can’t be replaced for medical reasons)?” asks Atlanta general manager John Schuerholz in the article.

However, the article continued, the Braves were left with few options. Sanders was on the roster, but it’s safe to assume that the Blue Jays didn’t think highly of him after he went 0-for-5 in the NLCS with three strikeouts.

After going 6 for 10 in his career against Toronto’s David Cone, Sanders, who did not play in Game 1, started Game 2 in lieu of Ron Gant. Using two walks and a single, left-handed hitter Sanders reached base three times against Cone’s right-handed pitching, stole two bases, and scored a run. Cox wasn’t exactly vocal about the performance, but he was still unhappy about the whole thing.

On page 12 of the publication dated October 26, Cox stated, “He played well.”

Only Sanders is listed as a prominent player who might go unprotected in the expansion draught a few pages later in renowned columnist Peter Pascarelli’s piece.

Oh, and the Falcons played the 49ers in San Francisco on the same day as Game 2. To the dismay of the football team, Sanders chose not to try playing two positions; in San Francisco’s 56-17 victory, Steve Young had 399 passing yards and Jerry Rice, the wideout Sanders would have been covering, had 183 receiving yards and two touchdowns. Check out this quote from 49ers tight end Brent Jones that was published on Page 28 of that same issue.

The Blue Jays had completed the World Series with a six-game victory by the time of the next edition of The Sporting News, published on November 2. After going 3-for-4 in Game 3, Sanders was out of the game in Game 4 (the Jays’ lefty Jimmy Key got the start), and he added two more hits in Games 5 and 6. He didn’t play in Game 6, though, as he lifted for Gant, who was referred to as “the forgotten man of the series” in the article after Toronto entered the game with lefty David Wells. When asked why he made the change, Cox replied, “Because I wanted Ron Gant in the game.”

The rivalry continued even after the World Series ended. As stated in the Nov. 6 issue, Sanders expressed his displeasure with Schuerholz sharing his thoughts on the contract situation with the media. “It aches. It bothers me when (Schuerholz) tries to undermine my authority. Being genuine is something I take great pride in. A man has nothing at all if he doesn’t keep his word.

Newsday was the first to publish those remarks. In response, Schuerholz said, “I’d be hurt if someone I’ve known in my life made fun of me. There are some people I respect. He is not among them.

Nevertheless, Sanders hit.533 in the World Series, so the Braves did not leave him unprotected for the expansion draught; instead, they renewed him for the following season at a salary of $985,000, as was stated in the March 15, 1993 issue the following spring.


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