Rand: Remembering hidden gems from the '91 World Series

  • Article by: MICHAEL RAND , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 28, 2011 - 6:24 AM

There are other details from 20 years ago that have been forgotten with the heroics of Kirby Puckett and Jack Morris.

Mark Lemke scored past Twins catcher Brian Harper to win Game 4 of the World Series in the ninth inning.

Photo: Rusty Kennedy, Associated Press

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The most vivid details of the 1991 World Series are not hard to remember: Kirby Puckett's catch and home run; Kent Hrbek's wrestling move; Chuck Knoblauch's fake of Lonnie Smith; Jack Morris' grit; Gene Larkin's fly ball; and so on.

But this author -- who by the way was a hardcore Braves fan 20 years ago -- thinks there might be a few hidden gems about that memorable series about which you might have forgotten. So with the 1991 World Series anniversary as a backdrop (Wednesday and Thursday were the 20-year milestones for Game 6 and Game 7), we wanted to bring these five things back to the surface:

UNLIKELY BRAVES HEROES

• You might recall infielder Mark Lemke, who was essentially the Nick Punto of the Braves, almost certainly would have been the World Series MVP had the Braves won. He hit just .234 (with a .617 OPS) in 269 regular-season at bats. In the World Series, however, The Lemmer was 10-for-24 (.417) with a double, three triples, four runs scored, four RBI and a 1.170 OPS. But another near-miracle for the Braves: shortstop Rafael Belliard, who might as well have changed his name to "light-hitting" since that descriptor so often preceded his given name, hit .375 in the series with four RBI.

MORRIS EXCELLENT THROUGHOUT

• Morris was the actual World Series MVP, of course, and deservedly so. Outside of his Game 7 gem, he pitched two other very good games: Seven innings with two runs allowed in a Game 1 victory and six innings with one run allowed in an eventual Game 4 loss (he took a no-decision). One factor that possibly helped him power through 10 innings and 126 pitches in Game 7: Morris threw just 100 pitches in Game 1 and 94 in Game 4.

WILD, WILD WEST

• David West appeared in two games for the Twins (Games 3 and 5 in Atlanta) in relief. He faced six total batters, allowing four walks and two hits and four runs without retiring anybody. Therefore, he finished the series with an ERA of infinity. That is not a good thing.

PUCK DID MORE THAN JUST HOMER

• Puckett's home run in Game 6 wasn't his first big at-bat of the game. He had an RBI triple in the first (and later scored) to put the Twins up 2-0, then hit a sacrifice fly in the fifth to again put them ahead 3-2. For the rest of the series, however, Puckett was just 3-for-20.

MISSED OPPORTUNITIES

• After Morris pitched out of a huge jam in the top of the eighth -- that was the Knoblauch/Smith inning -- the Twins actually had great chances to go-ahead and/or win in the eighth and ninth innings of the scoreless Game 7. In the eighth, the Twins loaded the bases with one out, only to have Kent Hrbek line into a double play. In the ninth, Chili Davis opened with a single and Brian Harper followed with a bunt single. But a Shane Mack double play ball and a Paul Sorrento strikeout ended that threat. Think of how differently you might remember some of the heroes of that series if either inning transpired differently.

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