Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise
Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise

Here's The Most Famous Play From The Last Reds-Pirates Playoff Game

The Reds play the Pirates in the NL wild-card game tonight, and while it's been forever-and-a-half since the Pirates last made the postseason, the two teams actually have quite a history with one another. And because I'm a Yinzer dork who can barely sit still in anticipation—hurry up, eight o'clock!—I started sifting through some of that history. I found the video you see above. But more on that in a bit.


The Bucs and Reds met in the pre-wild-card-era NLCS five times: 1970, 1972, 1975, 1979, and 1990. The Reds won all of them except '79. Without question, the play that stands out the most from those series was Bob Moose's wild pitch, which decided Game 5 and sent the Reds to the World Series in '72. It also turned out to be Roberto Clemente's last game; he would die in a plane crash two months later.

But because MLB hates you, video of Moose's wild pitch doesn't exist on the internet. [Update: I stand corrected. Here it is.] So let's look at 1990, when the Reds beat the Pirates in six games. The Pirates won Game 1, but the series shifted when Andy Van Slyke tried to advance from second to third on a Barry Bonds flyout in the sixth inning, only to get gunned down by Paul O'Neill, who also drove in both of Cincinnati's runs that day. The Reds would win three straight games before the Pirates beat them in Game 5 to send the series back to the Queen City. Which brings us to the video you see above.

It was the top of the ninth inning. The Reds were ahead 2-1 with closer Randy Myers on the mound. Bobby Bonilla popped out and Bonds walked when Carmelo Martinez came to the plate with one out. Martinez worked the count full and Myers made several pickoff attempts to hold the fleet-footed Bonds at first. And then Myers left a fastball up over the middle of the plate that Martinez sent toward Kentucky. Or so it seemed.

Glenn Braggs, who appeared in just two games in the series, was playing right field for the Reds. Why? Because back in the seventh, lefty Zane Smith was still in the game for the Pirates, and Reds manager Lou Piniella had Quinones pinch hit for O'Neill. The move paid off when Quinones smacked an RBI single to give the Reds the lead. It would pay off again when Braggs, who was playing way back near the warning track, went back to the fence and leaped high to take a home run away from Martinez.

Myers got the next batter, Don Slaught, to strike out, sending the Reds to the World Series, where they would sweep the A's. Cincinnati has appeared in the postseason three times since then. The Pirates won the NL East in each of the next two years, but they would lose to the Braves in the NLCS in seven games both times. The Bucs haven't been to the playoffs since. Until tonight.