Sid Bream

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Sidney Eugene Bream

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Biographical Information[edit]

"Everywhere I go, to this day... people still want to talk about it (Game 7 of the 1992 World Series). And that's just fine by me." - Sid Bream, to Bob Nightengale, April 2020

Sid Bream was a first baseman in the 1980s and 1990s known for his glove work and doubles hitting. He had moderate power and was not the heart-of-the-order type common to the position despite fairly impressive size. A popular player, he is most famous for scoring the winning run for the Atlanta Braves to win the 1992 NLCS.

Bream began his professional baseball career at High A. A second-round draft pick of the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 1981 amateur draft, he joined the Vero Beach Dodgers in midseason and hit .327/.395/.423; his average would have led the league but he did not have enough plate appearances to quality. Bream surprisingly began 1982 back in Vero Beach and hit .310/.398/.465. Promoted to the Double-A San Antonio Dodgers, Sid continued to hit with a .320/.399/.483 line. He also was 3 for 8 for the Albuquerque Dukes, making Triple A shortly after turning 22. Overall, Bream drove in 94 runs and hit .316 in his first full pro season. In 1983, Bream dazzled for the Dukes, chipping in at .307/.415/.569. He led the Pacific Coast League with 118 RBI and his 32 homers tied for the league lead with Kevin McReynolds. He scored 115 runs and drew 93 walks in a great season. That earned him a September call up with the Dodgers, in which he got 11 at-bats in 15 games.

Returning to the Dukes in 1984, Bream again put on a show at .343/.426/.559. He tied for fourth in the league with 20 homers, was sixth with 90 RBI and in the top 10 in average as well, before playing 27 games with the Dodgers, only hitting .184. 1985 was a back-and-forth year for Sid. In his third extended look with Albuquerque, he smacked the ball to the tune of .370/.437/.646 with 91 runs produced in 85 games and would have led the league in average had he qualified. With Los Angeles, he continued to fail to reach the Mendoza Line (.132/.230/.302), earning him a trade on September 9 to the Pittsburgh Pirates, along with R.J. Reynolds and Cecil Espy, in exchange for veteran Bill Madlock. With the young Bucs, Bream hit .284/.355/.453 and was in perfect position to replace the rapidly-declining Jason Thompson.

Given the starting first base job for the 1986 squadron, Bream cracked 37 doubles (third-most in the National League) and homered 16 times while driving in 77 runs. Hitting .268/.341/.450, he had a 115 OPS+ and established his residence in the area, never to move for an extended period as of 2020. He also had 166 assists at first base, shattering an 81-year-old NL record held by Fred Tenney of 152. That total has since been exceeded, first by Mark Grace in 1990, and later by Albert Pujols. In 1987, Sid slipped to .275/.336/.411 and 41 extra-base hits, though he finished strong at .342 over the final 21 games.

Pittsburgh, not entirely comfortable with Bream, brought in a couple of challengers in Orestes Destrade and Randy Milligan but Bream held on to the job for 1988. With that club, he hit .264/.328/.409 with a 112 OPS+ and fielded .995. He was fourth in the NL with 37 two-baggers. Bream suffered knee problems in 1989, missing a month then being sidelined for good after May 28 in the midst of a .222/.417/.306 season. Returning in 1990, Sid won the Hutch Award and hit .270/.349/.455 with 15 homers (for a career-high 124 OPS+) while platooning with Gary Redus. Bream went 4 for 8 with 8 total bases, 2 walks and 3 RBI in a fine NLCS, but Pittsburgh lost to the Cincinnati Reds as the stars - Barry Bonds, Andy Van Slyke and Bobby Bonilla - let the club down. Platooning Bream was a logical decision as Sid hit .273/.353/.433 in his career against righties and .233/.276/.376 against southpaws.

Let go by the Bucs to make room for prospect Orlando Merced, Bream signed with the Atlanta Braves and split first base with Brian Hunter in 1991; Sid hit .253/.313/.423 (101 OPS+) as the Braves completed a remarkable transformation that took them from last place in 1990 to the so-called "Worst-to-First" World Series against the Minnesota Twins. Bream hit .261/.340/.414 in 125 games in 1992 but is remembered best for scoring the winning run in Game 7 of the NLCS. Never known for his speed and slowed further by injuries, Bream beat a throw home by former teammate Bonds in the bottom of the ninth inning on a hit by pinch hitter Francisco Cabrera to cap a three-run spurt that sent Atlanta back to the World Series, where they would lose to the Toronto Blue Jays. He contributed to both Braves losses in the World Series by hitting .125 in 1991 and .200 with no extra-base hits in 1992.

Bream hit .260/.332/.415 for Atlanta in 1993, remaining an okay platoon option at first base with Hunter. On May 8, he hit a pinch-hit, game-winning grand slam to beat the Colorado Rockies. But, when slugger Fred McGriff became available at the season's midpoint, the end was near for Sid. He only had one at bat in the 1993 NLCS and moved to the Houston Astros in 1994 where he finished his career with a stellar .344/.429/.426 as the backup to Jeff Bagwell and a pinch hitter. Overall, Bream hit .264/.336/.420 (107 OPS+) in 3,530 plate appearances over 12 major league seasons. In the minors, his cumulative totals were .329/,414/.537.

Bream's son, Tyler, was drafted in 2011. In 2008, Sid served as the hitting coach for the State College Spikes.

Sources include 1988 Pirates Yearbook and Total Baseball

Further Reading[edit]

  • Bob Nightengale: "Sid Bream, for the first time, plans to watch the classic 1992 NLCS game that made him a cult hero in Atlanta", USA Today, April 3, 2020. [1]

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