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The 1996 World Series matched the defending champion Atlanta Braves against the New York Yankees, with the Yankees winning in six games to capture their first championship since 1978, and their 23rd overall. Game 5 was the final game to be played at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium (see below). In that game Andy Pettitte shut out John Smoltz as the Yankees won, 1-0. The final out at the Stadium was made when Yankees outfielder Paul O'Neill robbed Luis Polonia of a potential home run.
Series MVP: John Wetteland (New York)
The 1996 World Series marked the beginning of the New York Yankees' mini-dynasty of the late 1990s and early 2000s. Despite the rich playoff history of the Yankees, the defending champion Atlanta Braves entered the Series considered heavy favorites. The Yankees had reached the Series after a controversial ALCS victory over the Baltimore Orioles, while the Braves had rallied from a 3-1 deficit to defeat the St. Louis Cardinals in the NLCS.
The Braves, who had won the last three games of the NLCS by a combined score of 32-1, continued their roll early in the Fall Classic. Nineteen-year old rookie centerfielder Andruw Jones became the youngest player to homer in a World Series game in the second inning of Game 1. He went deep to left again in the third inning to provide the fireworks for Atlanta's 12-1 rout. Greg Maddux and Mark Wohlers combined on a 4-0 shutout gem in Game 2, and with the Series going to Atlanta, the Braves appeared on the brink of a championship repeat.
David Cone's pitching and Bernie Williams' three RBIs got New York a win in Game 3. The fourth game would prove to be the decisive contest of the Series. The Braves built a 6-0 lead. After the Yankees closed to 6-3 on pitcher Denny Neagle in the sixth. Two innings later, Yankees backup catcher Jim Leyritz hit a game-tying three run homer off of Braves closer Mark Wohlers. The Yankees went on to win the game 8-6 in ten innings. Leyritz's home run had firmly shifted the momentum of the Series. Many observe that Wohlers was never the same pitcher after allowing the crucial blast.
Game 1 loser Andy Pettitte beat 1996 NL Cy Young Award winner John Smoltz in a 1-0 pitcher's duel in Game 5. John Wetteland, the Series MVP, pitched the last inning of the shutout, in addition to earning the save in all four of New York's wins. After a three-run third inning and 5.1 innings by starter Jimmy Key, the Yankees, behind their bullpen were able to hold onto the 3-2 clinching victory.
New York's superior bullpen had proved to be the deciding factor in the Series. The Yankees would go on to win the Series three of the next four years. The Braves, while winning their division every season since 1991, have not won a world series game since game 2 of this series (They were swept 4-0 by New York in 1999).
|W: John Smoltz (1-0) L: Andy Pettitte (0-1)|
|HR: ATL – Andruw Jones (2), Fred McGriff (1)|
October 21, 1996 at Yankee Stadium (New York Yankees)
|W: Greg Maddux (1-0) L: Jimmy Key (0-1)|
|W: David Cone (1-0) L: Tom Glavine (0-1) S: John Wetteland (1)|
|HR: NYY – Bernie Williams (1)|
October 23, 1996 at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium (Atlanta Braves)
|W: Graeme Lloyd (1-0) L: Steve Avery (0-1) S: John Wetteland (2)|
|HR: NYY – Jim Leyritz (1) ATL – Fred McGriff (2)|
October 24, 1996 at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium (Atlanta Braves)
|W: Andy Pettitte (1-1) L: John Smoltz (1-1) S: John Wetteland (3)|
October 26, 1996 at Yankee Stadium (New York Yankees)
|W: Jimmy Key (1-1) L: Greg Maddux (1-1) S: John Wetteland (4)|
Quote of the Series
"They have surmounted every challenge, they have climbed every mountain..." - John Sterling, WCBS radio, after the Yankees won
- Game 5 of the 1996 World Series was the last ballgame ever played in Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium.
- When the Braves lost Game 5, they joined the 1905 Philadelphia Athletics, the 1921 New York Yankees and the 1986 New York Mets as the only teams to lose a 1-0 World Series game on an unearned run.
- On October 20, 1996, Andruw Jones became the youngest player, 19, in World Series history to hit a home run.
- Also on October 20, Andruw Jones became only the second player in World Series history (Gene Tenace in 1972) to hit a home run his first two times up in a Series.
- This was the first World Series to be televised by the Fox Broadcasting Company.
- Play-by-play man Joe Buck became the second youngest person (at the age of 27) to broadcast a World Series. Vin Scully is still the youngest when at 25, he called the 1953 World Series.
- Prior to Game 6, Yankees manager Joe Torre's brother Frank underwent heart transplant surgery.
- The Braves beating the Yankees in the first two games by a combined score of 16-1 was the biggest run differential in World Series history.
- Over the course of the 1996 World Series, the Braves hit .315 during the first six innings and .176 afterward.
- When the Yankees came back from a 6-0 deficit to win Game 4 by the score of 8-6 in 10 innings, it was the second biggest comeback in World Series history. The 1929 Philadelphia Athletics scored 10 runs in the seventh inning to defeat the Chicago Cubs 10-8 in Game 4.
- On an episode of Seinfeld, George Costanza, an employee of the Yankees, destroys the team's 1996 World Series trophy by dragging it behind his car. This is one of many stunts performed by George in an effort to make Yankees owner George Steinbrenner fire him so he can take a job offer from the New York Mets. However, the plan backfires, as Steinbrenner fires Mr. Wilhelm instead, making Wilhelm free to go to the Mets. Also in a Seinfeld episode that year, George is hitting home runs over the centerfield wall at Yankee Stadium and teaching Derek Jeter and Bernie Williams how to properly hit home runs. Williams replies "We won the World Series" and George says, "Yeah (saracastically) in 6 games!"
- The Yankees became the third team to win a World Series after dropping Games 1 and 2 at home, following the 1985 Kansas City Royals and the 1986 New York Mets.
- The Yankees were the first team to recover from a 0-2 games deficit since the 1986 Mets.
- This was the second ever postseason series in which the first five games were won by the road team, following the 1906 World Series.
|Major League Baseball World Series|