The 1997 National League Championship Series (NLCS) pitted the Florida Marlins against the Atlanta Braves. The Marlins won the series, 4–2, and went on to defeat the Cleveland Indians in the 1997 World Series.
|1997 National League Championship Series|
|MVP||Liván Hernández (Florida)|
|Umpires||Bruce Froemming, Charlie Williams, Mike Winters, Jerry Layne, Eric Gregg, Frank Pulli|
|Television||NBC (United States)|
MLB International (International)
|TV announcers||Bob Costas, Joe Morgan and Bob Uecker (Fox)|
Gary Thorne and Ken Singleton (MLB International)
|Radio announcers||Gary Cohen and Jerry Coleman|
Both teams hailed from the NL East division, the 101-win Braves being the division champions while the Marlins made the playoffs courtesy of the wild card. Both the Braves and Marlins swept their opponents during the Division Series. This was the second all-Southern postseason series, the first being in the previous round when Atlanta beat the Houston Astros. However, it was the first all-Southern postseason series to take place entirely in one time zone.
This series marked the high point for the Braves-Marlins rivalry, as the Marlins have made the playoffs only once more since 1997 (2003, which also ended with a World Series title).
Florida won the series, 4–2.
|1||October 7||Florida Marlins – 5, Atlanta Braves – 3||Turner Field||3:04||49,244|
|2||October 8||Florida Marlins – 1, Atlanta Braves – 7||Turner Field||2:51||48,933|
|3||October 10||Atlanta Braves – 2, Florida Marlins – 5||Pro Player Stadium||2:59||53,857|
|4||October 11||Atlanta Braves – 4, Florida Marlins – 0||Pro Player Stadium||2:48||54,890|
|5||October 12||Atlanta Braves – 1, Florida Marlins – 2||Pro Player Stadium||2:27||51,982|
|6||October 14||Florida Marlins – 7, Atlanta Braves – 4||Turner Field||3:10||50,446|
|WP: Kevin Brown (1–0) LP: Greg Maddux (0–1) Sv: Robb Nen (1)|
ATL: Chipper Jones (1), Ryan Klesko (1)
The Marlins scored three unearned runs in the first inning off Greg Maddux when Fred McGriff's error on Jeff Conine's ground ball loaded the bases with two outs, then Moisés Alou hit a bases-clearing groundball double past Chipper Jones's glove (who made a weak attempt backhanding the ball). Atlanta got a run back in the bottom of the inning off Florida starter Kevin Brown with Keith Lockhart doubled with one out and scored on McGriff's single, but in the third, an error by center fielder Kenny Lofton on Gary Sheffield's fly ball allowed him to reach third, then after a walk, Alou's groundout and Charles Johnson's doubled scored a run each to put the Marlins ahead 5–1. All five runs they scored in this game were unearned. Home runs by Chipper Jones in the third and Ryan Klesko in the sixth drew Atlanta to 5–3, but the Florida bullpen held the Braves hitless over the final three innings. Brown, who went six innings, got the win.
|WP: Tom Glavine (1–0) LP: Alex Fernandez (0–1)|
ATL: Ryan Klesko (2), Chipper Jones (2)
The Braves rallied from their sloppy Game 1 and routed pitcher Alex Fernandez, chasing him after 2 2⁄3 innings. In the first, Kenny Lofton hit a leadoff single, then scored on Keith Lockhart's triple. After two strikeouts, Ryan Klesko's home run made it 3–0. A third inning two-run homer by Chipper Jones helped Atlanta build a 5–0 lead. In the bottom of the seventh, Tony Graffanino hit a leadoff double, then scored on Jones' single. Two walks loaded the bases before Javy Lopez's sacrifice fly made it 7–0 Braves. Starter Tom Glavine was excellent, giving up just one run (in the eighth when Charles Johnson walked with one out and scored on Devon White's double) in 7 2⁄3 innings. It was learned after the game that Fernandez had been unknowingly pitching with a rotator cuff injury, and would be done for the series, which was tied 1–1 heading to Florida.
|WP: Liván Hernández (1–0) LP: John Smoltz (0–1) Sv: Robb Nen (2)|
FLA: Gary Sheffield (1)
With the series shifting south to Miami, Game 3 began as a close game. In the top of the fourth inning the Braves loaded the bases with nobody out on a single, walk and error off of Tony Saunders, but could only score one run on Fred McGriff's sacrifice fly that scored Kenny Lofton. Gary Sheffield responded with a home run in the bottom of the fourth off of John Smoltz. This was the only home run the Marlins hit in the series. In the sixth, the Braves put runners on first and third with one out off of Saunders before Javy López hit a sacrifice fly off of Livan Hernandez, which scored Jeff Blauser. However, the Marlins pulled away in the bottom half of the sixth, when they scored four runs to finish John Smoltz's night. With two on, two out, and a 1-2 count, Darren Daulton hit a clutch, game-tying double, scoring Édgar Rentería. After an intentional walk loaded the bases, light-hitting catcher Charles Johnson smacked a 2-2 pitch to left-center, clearing the bases and giving the Marlins a 5-2 lead. Hernández got the win as the Marlins took a 2–1 series lead.
|WP: Denny Neagle (1–0) LP: Al Leiter (0–1)|
ATL: Jeff Blauser (1)
Denny Neagle stepped up and pitched a complete game, four-hit shutout of the Marlins in Game 4. The Braves offense, meanwhile, chipped away at Al Leiter. Fred McGriff followed a walk and single with an RBI single in the first, then after a double and walk in the third, Andruw Jones's RBI single made it 2–0 Braves. Jeff Blauser led off the fifth with a home run, then Chipper Jones singled and scored on Fred McGriff's double, putting the Braves on top 4–0. The win evened the series at 2–2, and with Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine scheduled to start Games 5 and 6 and the Florida pitching staff in apparent disarray, the advantage clearly fell with the Braves.
|WP: Liván Hernández (2–0) LP: Greg Maddux (0–2)|
ATL: Michael Tucker (1)
After Neagle's gem in Game 4, Game 5 was clearly the pivotal game of the series. If the Marlins lost, the Braves would be up three games to two and going home with an almost certain NL pennant in sight. Liván Hernández replaced Kevin Brown, who had fallen ill that day. The Braves threatened immediately in the first inning, with Kenny Lofton hitting a triple and Keith Lockhart being walked, putting runners on the corners with 0 outs. However, Livan regrouped and struck out the heart of the order. Florida scored a run in the bottom of the inning off Greg Maddux when Devon White was hit by a pitch, stole second and after a walk, scored on Bobby Bonilla's single. The Braves evened the game with a Michael Tucker home run in the second. The score remained tied at 1–1 as Maddux and Hernández traded scoreless innings. In the bottom of the seventh, Bobby Bonilla doubled and scored on a single by Jeff Conine to give the Marlins a 2-1 lead. Hernández continued to shut down a befuddled Braves offense. The Braves had a chance for a potential two-out rally in the eighth with Lofton reaching on a walk, but was thrown out trying to steal second base. The game ended with Hernandez striking out Fred McGriff on a called third strike. Hernández pitched a complete game, three-hit, fifteen strikeout masterpiece to reclaim a series lead for the Marlins. The Braves three, four, five hitters went 1-11 with seven strikeouts.
This particular game is remembered for the controversy surrounding an unusually wide strike zone given to Hernández, by umpire Eric Gregg. It was voted as the third-worst called game from 1975–2000 by Baseball America.
Liván Hernández set a record for most strikeouts in a National League Championship Series game with fifteen; just a day earlier Mike Mussina of the Baltimore Orioles had struck out fifteen in the American League Championship Series against the Indians in Game 3.
|WP: Kevin Brown (2–0) LP: Tom Glavine (1–1)|
Back at Turner Field with a World Series appearance looming, the Marlins went back to their ace, Kevin Brown. Facing Tom Glavine, Devon White singled, Edgar Rentería walked, and Gary Sheffield singled to load the bases with no outs. Bobby Bonilla then smacked a two-run single. After a Jeff Conine sacrifice bunt and Moises Alou intentional walk, Glavine beamed Charles Johnson, scoring Sheffield, making it 3-0. Craig Counsell then grounded out, scoring Bonilla, making it 4-0 Marlins.
The Braves struck back in the bottom half with Ryan Klesko singling home Keith Lockhart. The Braves closed to within one run in the second inning. Jeff Blauser singled with one out, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt, then scored on Kenny Lofton single. After Lofton stole second and moved to third on catcher Johnson's throwing error, Lockhart singled him home, making the score 4-3. However, Glavine could not quell the Marlins in the sixth. Once again, White, Rentería, and Sheffield reached base with no outs. Bonilla singled making it 5-3. After a Conine strikeout, Alou grounded into a force play, scoring Rentería. Johnson then walked intentionally before Counsell singled, making it 7–3 Marlins. Brown was asked to leave the game towards the ninth, but he told Jim Leyland he wanted to continue. The Braves were able to score one in the ninth on Lockhart's single with two on, bringing Chipper Jones, who finished ninth in MVP voting, to the plate representing the tying run. However, he hit a grounder and the Marlins forced Keith Lockhart at second to give Brown a complete game victory and the first pennant for the Florida Marlins. It was the first pennant for a wild card team in Major League Baseball history.
|Total attendance: 309,352 Average attendance: 51,559|
The 1997 Atlanta Braves season marked the franchise's 32nd season in Atlanta and 127th overall. The Braves won their sixth consecutive division title, taking the National League East title by 9 games over the second place Florida Marlins. However, the Marlins would later defeat the Braves in the 1997 National League Championship Series. 1997 was the first year that the Braves played their home games in Turner Field, which originally served as a venue for the 1996 Summer Olympics.Bad call
A "bad call" is an informal term used in sports to describe a referee decision, or "call", that is incorrect or perceived to be incorrect. Bad calls have been associated with all sports involving referees or judges.A bad call is made by a game referee when:
An incorrect application of a game rule is made.
An incorrect interpretation of a specific game event is made.
An infraction of a game rule is unseen or ignored and the specific rule violation is left unaddressed.Public outcry following a highly visible and questionable call might lead to a public clarification of existing rules or in rare instances, an actual change in rules.
Author Andrew Caruso notes that "Bad calls or bad breaks are part of every sport. That's life.""Bad call" is used outside of sports colloquially to quickly label a bad decision: "His promotion was a bad call.", "He took her to dinner with his mom; bad call."Denny Neagle
Dennis Edward Neagle Jr. (; born September 13, 1968) is a former Major League Baseball pitcher. He was last under contract with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays during the 2005 season, but he did not play due to injury. During the 1990s, he was one of the top pitchers in baseball, but his career, and personal life, deteriorated in the early 2000s. With the New York Yankees, he won the 2000 World Series over the New York Mets.Eddie Pérez (baseball)
Eduardo Rafael Pérez (born May 4, 1968) is a Venezuelan-American former professional baseball player and coach. He played in Major League Baseball (MLB) as a catcher for the Atlanta Braves, Cleveland Indians and the Milwaukee Brewers. He batted and threw right-handed. During his tenure with the Braves, Pérez was notable for being the personal catcher for Baseball Hall of Fame pitcher Greg Maddux and, for being named the Most Valuable Player of the 1999 National League Championship Series.Eric Gregg
Eric Eugene Gregg (May 18, 1951 – June 5, 2006) was an American umpire in Major League Baseball who worked in the National League from 1975 to 1999. He was known for being a pioneering black umpire, for his longtime weight problems, and for his controversial home plate umpiring in Game 5 of the 1997 National League Championship Series—when his generous strike zone helped the Florida Marlins' Liván Hernández strike out 15 Atlanta batters. Throughout his National League career, Gregg wore uniform number 7.Jeff Conine
Jeffrey Guy Conine (; born June 27, 1966) is a former Major League Baseball player who played 17 seasons with six teams primarily as an outfielder. An inaugural member of the Florida Marlins who was with the franchise for both of its World Series titles, he earned the title Mr. Marlin for his significant history with the club, and his ties to South Florida.Conine was born in Tacoma, Washington, played baseball at UCLA, and was drafted in the 58th round of the 1987 Major League Baseball draft by the Kansas City Royals. After two cup of coffee stints with the Royals, Conine was selected by the Marlins in the 1992 Major League Baseball expansion draft. Becoming the team's first star, he played five seasons with the Marlins, earning the most valuable player award at the 1995 Major League Baseball All-Star Game and earning a World Series title in 1997.
A victim of a fire sale after the 1997 season, Conine was traded to the Royals where he played in 93 games. He was traded to the Baltimore Orioles prior to the 1999 season, where he had several productive seasons. Traded back to the Marlins in 2003 for a couple of prospects, he helped the team win a second World Series title. He remained with the team until 2005, returning to the Orioles as a free agent. He became a journeyman outfielder near the end of his career, signing a one-day contract to retire as a member of the Marlins in 2008.Kenny Lofton
Kenneth Lofton (born May 31, 1967) is a former Major League Baseball (MLB) center fielder. Lofton was a six-time All-Star (1994–1999), four-time Gold Glove Award winner (1993–1996), and at retirement, was ranked fifteenth among all-time stolen base leaders with 622. During his career, he played for the Houston Astros, Cleveland Indians (three different times), Atlanta Braves, Chicago White Sox, San Francisco Giants, Pittsburgh Pirates, Chicago Cubs, New York Yankees, Philadelphia Phillies, Los Angeles Dodgers, and Texas Rangers.
Lofton attended the University of Arizona on a basketball scholarship. The Wildcats made it to the Final Four in 1988. He did not join the school's baseball team until his junior year.
Lofton made 11 postseason appearances, including World Series appearances in 1995 and 2002 with the Indians and Giants, respectively. From 2001 to 2007, Lofton did not spend more than one consecutive season with a team. For his career, the Indians were the only team he played with for longer than one season and the only franchise he played for more than once. Lofton played 9 1⁄2 seasons with the Indians, helping the organization win six division titles. In 2010, he was inducted into the Cleveland Indians Hall of Fame.
During his professional baseball career, Lofton's single-season stolen base count led the American League (AL) on five occasions and three times MLB. In 1994, he led the American League in hits. Lofton broke Rickey Henderson's record of 33 career post-season stolen bases during the 2007 post-season. Of his base running, Frank White said, "Lofton has out-thought a lot of major-league players" and later, "a smart, complete baseball player."Kevin Brown (right-handed pitcher)
James Kevin Brown (born March 14, 1965) is a former Major League Baseball right-handed pitcher. He played from 1986 to 2005, leading the American League in wins once and leading the National League in earned run average twice. He was also a six-time All-Star.Édgar Rentería
Édgar Enrique Rentería Herazo (Spanish pronunciation: [ˈeðɣaɾ renteˈɾi.a]; born August 7, 1975), nicknamed "The Barranquilla Baby," is a Colombian former professional baseball shortstop. He threw and batted right-handed. He played for the Florida Marlins, the St. Louis Cardinals, the Boston Red Sox, the Atlanta Braves, the Detroit Tigers, San Francisco Giants and Cincinnati Reds.
Born in Barranquilla, Colombia, Rentería was signed by the Florida Marlins in 1992. He debuted with them in 1996, and he finished second to Todd Hollandsworth in Rookie of the Year Award balloting. In 1997, his RBI single off Charles Nagy in the eleventh inning of Game 7 of the 1997 World Series won the first World Series in Marlins' history. He was selected to his first All-Star Game in 1998, and he was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals following the season. He was the starting shortstop for the Cardinals for six years, and he was selected to the All-Star Game in 2000, 2003, and 2004. In 2002 and 2003 he won the Silver Slugger and Gold Glove Awards. Following the 2004 season, he signed with the Boston Red Sox. After a year with them, he was traded to the Atlanta Braves. He was selected to another All-Star Game in 2006, but following the 2007 season he was traded to the Detroit Tigers. After 2008, he became a free agent, and he signed with the San Francisco Giants. In the 2010 World Series, Rentería won the World Series Most Valuable Player Award after he hit game-winning home runs in Game 2 and Game 5. He became a free agent again after the season, and he signed with the Cincinnati Reds.
|American League teams|
|National League teams|