CRESSON - One of the most infamous moments in Pittsburgh Pirates baseball history has been referred to simply as "The Slide,'' and the irony of the moment has never been lost on the man who made it.
First baseman Sid Bream, who played a key role in the Pirates' first of what would be three consecutive National League East Division championships in 1990, slid home with the winning run for the Atlanta Braves in Game 7 of the National League Championship Series against those same Pirates in 1992.
Bream scored from second base ahead of catcher Mike Lavalliere's tag after the Braves' Francisco Cabrera had belted a two-out single to left field against Pirates' reliever Stan Belinda, capping off an improbable three-run ninth-inning rally that lifted the Braves to a 3-2 victory in the decisive seventh game of the NLCS on October 14, 1992 at Atlanta's old Fulton County Stadium.
The Slide was ominous as well as heartbreaking for the Pirates, ending their hopes of advancing to the World Series for the third straight season, and ushering in what would become a major American sports record 20 consecutive losing seasons from 1993 through 2012.
Bream, the guest celebrity at the 17th Annual Mount Aloysius College Celebrity Golf Tournament Friday at the Summit Country Club, has lived in suburban Pittsburgh for the past three decades. He's been a Pirates' fan since his retirement from Major League Baseball in 1994, and The Slide is part of the reason why.
"[I'm] absolutely [a Pirates' fan],'' said Bream, 53, married and the father of four, who now lives in Zelienople. "The Pirates were a big part of my life, and through the years, because of the slide and all that took place after that, there was a lot of interest on my part in seeing them get over .500 again just to take away the Bream curse.''
It finally happened in 2013, when the Pirates won 94 games and reached the playoffs for the first time since Bream's slide in 1992 brought about 20 years of heartache.
Bream beat left fielder Barry Bonds' poor throw home that night after Cabrera - an unknown before and after that - had singled to send the Braves to the World Series for the second straight year at the Pirates' expense.
"I shouldn't have even been on second base then,'' said Bream, who had endured six separate knee surgeries. "[Then-Braves' manager] Bobby Cox should have pinch-run for me. When I came around third base, I slid directly into home plate. There was no hook slide to it.
"I had everything in my favor. There were two outs, and I didn't have to worry about where the ball was hit,'' Bream added. "As soon as the ball was hit, I took off. Even at that, with my [lack of] speed and considering how hard the ball was hit, I had no idea whether I would be safe or out.''
As things materialized, Bream - a member of the Pirates from 1986 through 1990 before signing a free-agent contract with the Braves - crossed the plate with the run that would send the Pirates on a downward spiral for two straight decades.
And that long descent into oblivion for the franchise that Bream holds in familial status surprised the Carlisle, Pa. native, who hit .264 with 90 home runs and 455 RBIs in 12 major league seasons with four different teams.
"I was hurting a little bit that they never had an opportunity to get to the World Series,'' Bream said of the Pirates. "Living in Pittsburgh, I still get [teased] all the time, but I give it right back. I never, ever thought in a million years that it would be 20 years before they got back to .500.''
Both in and out of baseball, Bream's Christian faith has been important to him.
"I was playing for an audience of one,'' Bream said about his relationship with the Lord. "As long as I was giving everything for Him, I never had to worry about what fans, the press, management or other players would say. And I knew that when I was done playing, there would be something better for me.''
Bream now travels the country as a motivational speaker, and also serves as a volunteer with an organization known as the Outdoor Dream Foundation, which provides hunting, fishing and other outdoor excursions for young people age 21 and under who are facing life-threatening or terminal health conditions.
Last December, Bream -- an avid hunter himself - accompanied an 11-year-old boy with a potentially fatal blood disorder on a hunting outing in Florida that yielded an 11-foot, 10-inch alligator.
"It's kind of like a Make-A-Wish organization for the outdoors,'' Bream said of the Outdoor Dream Foundation. "The tough thing about it is that some of these young people pass away. So whatever we can do to encourage them and put a smile on their faces, we try to do it.''
John Hartsock can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org