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Sid Bream

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Sidney Eugene Bream

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Sid Bream was a first baseman in the 1980s and 1990s known for his glove work and doubles hitting. He had moderate power and was not the heart-of-the-order type common to the position despite fairly impressive size. A popular player, he was most famous for scoring the winning run in the 1992 NLCS.

Bream began his professional baseball career at high class A. A second-round draft pick of the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 1981 amateur draft, he joined the Vero Beach Dodgers in mid-season and hit .327/~.399/.423; his average would have led the league but he did not have enough plate appearances. Bream surprisingly began 1982 back in Vero Beach and hit .310/~.395/.465. Promoted to the AA San Antonio Dodgers, Sid continued to hit with a .320/~.399/.483 line. He then also was 3 for 8 for the Albuquerque Dukes, making AAA shortly after turning 22. Overall, Bream had driven in 94 runs and hit .316 in his first full pro season.

In 1983, Bream dazzled for the Dukes, chipping in at .307/~.419/.569. He led the Pacific Coast League with 118 RBI and his 32 homers tied for the league lead with Kevin McReynolds. He scored 115 runs and drew 93 walks in a great season. That earned him a September call-up with the Dodgers, in which he got 11 at-bats in 15 games.

Returning to the Dukes in 1984, Bream again put on a show at .343/~.431/.559. He tied for fourth in the league with 20 homers, was sixth with 90 RBI and in the top 5-10 in average as well, before playing 27 games with the Dodgers, only hitting .184. 1985 was a back-and-forth year for Sid. In his third extended look with Albuquerque, he smacked the ball to the tune of .370/~.435/.646 with 91 runs produced in 85 games and he would have led the league in average had he qualified. With Los Angeles, he continued to fail to reach the Mendoza Line (.132/.230/.302), earning him a trade on September 9 to the Pittsburgh Pirates along with R.J. Reynolds and Cecil Espy in exchange for veteran Bill Madlock. With the young Bucs, Bream hit .284/.355/.453 and was in perfect position to replace the rapidly-declining Jason Thompson.

Given the starting first base job for the 1986 Pirates, Bream cracked 37 doubles (third-most in the National League) and homered 16 times and drove in 77 runs. Hitting .268/.341/.450, he had a 115 OPS+ and the Pennsylvania native established his residence in the area, never to move for an extended period as of 2006. He also had 166 assists at first base, shattering the 81-year-old NL record of Fred Tenney of 152. That total has since been exceeded, first by Mark Grace in 1990, and then by Albert Pujols.

In 1987, Sid slipped to .275/.336/.411 and 41 extra-base hits, though he finished strong at .342 over the final 21 games. Pittsburgh, not entirely comfortable with Bream, brought in a couple of challengers in Orestes Destrade and Randy Milligan but Bream held on to the job for the 1988 Pirates. With that club, he hit .264/.328/.409 with a 112 OPS+ and fielding .995. He was fourth in the NL with 37 two-baggers.

Bream suffered knee problems in 1989, missing a month then being sidelined for good after May 28 after a .222/.417/.306 season. Returning in 1990, Sid won the Fred Hutchinson Award and hit .270/.349/.455 with 15 homers (a career-high 124 OPS+) while platooning with Gary Redus. Bream went 4 for 8 with 8 total bases, 2 walks and 3 RBI in a fine 1990 NLCS, but Pittsburgh to the Cincinnati Reds lost as the stars - Barry Bonds, Andy Van Slyke and Bobby Bonilla - let the club down. Platooning Bream was a logical decision as Sid hit .273/.353/.433 in his career against righties and .233/.276/.376 against southpaws.

Let go by the Bucs to make room for prospect Orlando Merced, Bream signed with the Atlanta Braves and split first base with Brian Hunter in 1991; Sid hit .253/.313/.423 (101 OPS+) as the Braves completed a remarkable transformation that took them from last place in 1990 to the so-called "Worst-to-First" World Series against the Minnesota Twins. Bream hit .261/.340/.414 in 125 games in 1992 but is remembered primarily for scoring the winning run in game seven of the NLCS. Never known for his speed and slowed further by injuries, Bream beat a throw home by former teammate Bonds in the bottom of the ninth inning on a hit by pinch hitter Francisco Cabrera to cap a three-run spurt that sent Atlanta back to the World Series, where they would lose to the Toronto Blue Jays. He contributed to both Braves losses in the World Series by hitting .125 in 1991 and .200 with no extra-base hits in 1992.

Bream hit .260/.332/.415 for Atlanta in 1993, remaining an okay platoon option at first base with Hunter. On May 8, he hit a pinch-hit, game-winning grand slam to beat the Colorado Rockies. But when slugger Fred McGriff became available at the season's mid-point, the end was near for the 33-year-old and declining Bream. He only had one at bat in the 1993 NLCS and moved to the Houston Astros in 1994 where he finished his career with a stellar .344/.429/.426 as the back-up to Jeff Bagwell and pinch hitter.

Overall, Bream hit .264/.336/.420 (107 OPS+) in 3,530 plate appearances over 12 major league seasons. In the minors, his cumulative totals were .329/~.415/.537.

Bream's son Tyler Bream was drafted in 2011.

In 2008 Bream was the hitting coach for the State College Spikes.

Sources include 1988 Pirates Yearbook and Total Baseball

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