Oct. 28, 1995 means only one thing to Atlanta Braves fans Game Six.
Atlantas 1-0 victory over the Cleveland Indians in Game Six of the 1995 World Series that night cemented the Braves' place as the "Team of the '90s" and Tom Glavine's as one of baseball's premier big-game pitchers.
The thing is, he didn't really want to be at Fulton County Stadium that night. The way it worked out, the Indians wished Glavine hadn't been there, either.
"Leading up to it, I was hoping that I never had to pitch that game," he said. "I was hoping that we'd win Game Five in Cleveland and we win the series. It didn't work out that way.
"So you get over the initial disappointment of 'We have to play another game to try and be the World Series Champions,'" he continued. "In my mind I started looking at it as a great opportunity, a great opportunity to go out and pitch and lead the Braves and the city to a World Championship. Now, never in my wildest dreams did I imagine the kind of night that I had but I kind of looked at it as an opportunity."
Glavine cashed in that opportunity, pitching a one-hitter over eight innings, as the Braves beat Cleveland, 1-0, to bring Atlanta its first major championship.
The then 29-year-old lefty, who was named Most Valuable Player of the World Series after going 2-0 with a 1.29 ERA he was 2-0 with a 1.61 ERA in four postseason starts in 95 is still a bit surprised when he looks back at the way he handcuffed the Indians that Saturday night.
This was a team that had speedy Kenny Lofton (54 stolen bases) and professional hitter Carlos Baerga (a .312 average) setting the table for sluggers Albert Belle (50 homers), Manny Ramirez (31 homers), Jim Thome (25), Paul Sorrento (25) and Eddie Murray (21) and led the American League in runs (840, 5.8 per game), home runs (207), batting average (.291), on-base percentage (.361) and stolen bases (132).
"You look at that lineup, it's probably the best offense I've ever pitched against, top to bottom," Glavine said. "It just so happened that I had what was probably the best single game of my career on that given night. Which was good timing on my part."
The Billerica, Mass., native, a two-time Cy Young Award winner (1991, 98) and a 10-time All-Star, had a lot of nights with such good timing over his 22-year career. He appeared in 24 playoff series (nine Division Series, 10 League Championship Series and five World Series) 21 of those coming with the Braves, and also helped pitch the New York Mets to within one game of the 2006 World Series, going 2-1 with a 1.59 ERA). He ranks in the top 10 all-time in career playoff games (35, 10th), strikeouts (143, fifth), wins (14, third), innings (218 13) and starts (35).
"I think with all that people will tell you that I'm probably at the top of the list in losses, too," he said, with a laugh, referring to his deceiving 14-16 postseason record. "My postseason success obviously was due to the fact that we played on so many good teams. We had opportunities year after year to pitch in the postseason so that
certainly helps you to amass a lot of those numbers.
"Having said that, you still have to do something with that opportunity," he added. "I think its a little bit tougher for guys my style, Greg Maddux's style to be successful in the postseason. The hard throwers tend to have more success that time of year, but I'm proud of the way I was able to perform in the postseason."
Pride played a big role in the way Glavine performed with the Braves as part of a staff that included Maddux, John Smoltz and Steve Avery, amongst others.
"Nobody wanted to be the weak link," he said. "We were competitive in a good way. It was always good that we had each other to keep each other working hard and to motivate one another.
"It was great that we had each other from the standpoint you knew that if one of us had a bad game that somebody was coming right behind them to pick them up, he added. "Being around those guys, not only did it make you better because they were pushing you and you were watching and learning from them, it made you perform better because you were able to relax and not feel like everything rested on your shoulders. There was always a little less pressure, knowing that if you had an off-night or things didn't go right, then the guy coming in tomorrow could turn things around. That was a nice luxury."
A staunch competitor, Glavine relished the high-stakes pitching of the postseason, something that became an annual rite in Atlanta, as the Braves won 14 consecutive division titles, 1991 through 2005). Although Glavine left Atlanta after the 2002 season, he returned to postseason play in 2006, ironically as part of the Mets team that ended the Braves' run.
"There's something about playing in October, the air's a little bit cooler, it's a little bit crisper at night," he said. "It's just a time of year where there's a lot riding on what's going on and theres not a lot of room for error. There's a lot of pressure on everybody. The guys that are able to assess all that then ultimately relax and trust themselves to go out and do the things they've been doing all year long are the guys that tend to be successful in that kind of atmosphere."
The Braves have not duplicated the ultimate success of the 95 team, nor has any Atlanta hurler put on a performance to match Glavine's of Oct. 28, 1995. That gem is a part of what makes Glavine, who is back with the Braves as a special assistant to team president John Schuerholz and as a broadcaster for Fox Sports Net, a legend of the postseason and an idol to those playing the game today and kids watching the game hoping to someday play.
His place in Braves and Major League Baseball lore is humbling to Glavine.
"Any time you've got people telling you they pitched like you when they were a kid I hear guys in the Big Leagues telling me that now people comparing other people to you, that's flattering," he said. "I never in a million years envisioned myself being one of those guys. Through, obviously, a lot of fortunate circumstances and a lot of hard work I was able to do some good things and become that to some people. It's extremely flattering whenever I hear somebody say that."