Year in Review: 1997


Re-rank the list of top sports stories of 1997


Find out more about:

Tiger Woods takes
golf world by storm

Pedro Martinez signs
record deal with Sox

Latrell Sprewell
assaults coach, gets ax

Rick Pitino becomes
Celtics coach, president

Bill Parcells quits after Patriots' banner year

Martina Hingis
rules women's tennis

Florida Marlins win World Series

Women's pro hoop
meets with success

A Patriots surprise:
Super Bowl XXXI berth

Wil Cordero charged
with assaulting wife

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Check out the top news stories of 1997

Bravo for the Marlins

5-year-old franchise stuns Atlanta to reach World Series

By Gordon Edes, Globe Staff, 10/15/97

ATLANTA - The Florida Marlins, the team of the last 15 minutes, made time run out last night for the Atlanta Braves, the team of the decade.

The Marlins, a team seemingly bought overnight last winter by owner Wayne Huizenga and placed on sale by him in June, became the youngest expansion team to advance to the World Series when they beat the Braves, 7-4, in Game 6 of the National League Championship Series last night.

The defending NL champions, winners of six division titles in the '90s but only one World Series, bowed out, four games to two, as the Marlins routed Tom Glavine while Florida pitcher Kevin Brown arose from his sickbed to turn the Braves to ashes.

It took the New York Mets eight seasons to reach the World Series, in 1969. The Marlins, mere 5-year-olds, will face Cleveland or Baltimore in the World Series beginning Saturday night in Miami, a place where big league teams used to go only for spring training, not to decide championships.

The Braves, who won 101 games in the regular season to finish nine games ahead of the wild-card Marlins, stunned a crowd of 50,446 by losing the pennant-deciding game at home in their first year in Turner Field, the baseball palace named after their owner.

The hourglass leaked sand by the shovelful in the first inning, when the Marlins scored four runs against Glavine, the consummate money pitcher caught throwing wooden nickels by Florida.

The hourglass shattered in the sixth when the Marlins scored three more off Glavine, who pitched the NLCS clincher last season and the World Series clincher in '95 but was carried off on his shield last night.

No stretcher, meanwhile, was needed for Brown, who was so weakened by a stomach virus that he was scratched twice on the weekend. He showed a strong constitution last night against the Braves, who scratched out three runs in the first two innings.

Brown retired 13 straight Braves from Keith Lockhart's two-out single in the fourth to Javy Lopez's strikeout to end the eighth. Lopez, MVP of last year's NLCS, when the Braves rallied from a 3-1 deficit in games to beat the Cardinals, had just one hit in 17 at-bats in this series.

Only two players, Jeff Conine and Alex Arias, remain from the Marlins team that lost 98 games in its first season and had never won more than it lost until this season, when it won 92 games under first-year manager Jim Leyland.

It was five years to the night that the unknown Brave, Francisco Cabrera, snatched a Series trip away from Leyland with a pinch hit in the bottom of the ninth that beat Leyland's Pirates in Game 7 of the NLCS.

But last night the Marlins had more hits in one at-bat against Glavine (4) than they did in 7

innings of Game 2 against the Braves lefthander (3).

Devon White, batting .125 in the series, whacked Glavine's first pitch for a single. Edgar Renteria walked, and Gary Sheffield grounded a single to right to load the bases for Bobby Bonilla, who gave Florida a 2-0 lead when he lined a single to left.

Leyland had his No. 5 hitter, Conine, bunt the runners over, with Braves manager Bobby Cox countering by ordering an intentional pass to Moises Alou. Leyland got the better of that exchange when Glavine hit Charles Johnson in the arm with a pitch, forcing home a run, and an infield out then made it 4-0.

Brown struck out to end the inning, but having gone once through the order already, Glavine was assured of having a high pitch count by midgame.

Brown proved vulnerable, too, giving up a run in the first and two in the second as the Braves brought their fans' tomahawk chops out of mothballs.

Whether he was still feeling the effects of his illness, only he could say, but Brown, who threw a no-hitter earlier this season and was 8-0 with a 1.96 ERA in his last 13 starts, was eminently hittable.

Singles by Keith Lockhart, Fred McGriff, and Ryan Klesko made it 4-1 in the bottom of the first.

In the second, Jeff Blauser singled, was sacrificed to second, and scored on a base hit by Lofton to make it 4-2, and Lofton finally won a round of his one-on-one duel with Johnson, stealing second and taking third when the catcher's throw skipped past Renteria for an error.

Lockhart, who came into the game as the Braves' second- best hitter (.364), lined an opposite-field single to score Lofton, making it 4-3. Brown appeared on the verge of being lifted when he then walked Chipper Jones on four pitches - lefty Felix Heredia was warming up - but he responded by striking out McGriff.

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