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WORLD SERIES / TORONTO BLUE JAYS vs. ATLANTA BRAVES : Smith Bears All the Blame : Braves: Outfielder wants a championship to replace the memory of his '91 baserunning gaffe against the Twins.

October 16, 1992|BOB NIGHTENGALE | TIMES STAFF WRITER

What happened was that Ron Gant hit a grounder to first baseman Kent Hrbek for the first out, preventing Smith from scoring. David Justice was intentionally walked. And with the bases loaded, Bream grounded into a double play, ending the inning.

"I knew right there what everyone would be talking about," Smith says.

Two innings later, the Twins were celebrating when Gene Larkin's 10th-inning fly-ball single scored Gladden with the winner.

By the next morning, Smith was reading the first wave of newspaper stories, and within days the hate letters were arriving.

"To this day, people still don't believe me," Smith says "because (Tim) McCarver blamed me and said that Knoblauch faked me out, and Jack Buck said it was terrible baserunning. Why would anyone believe anybody else?"

Now, in what may be Smith's final hurrah with the Braves, he desperately wants his lasting memory to be a World Series championship.

"We still owe these people a championship," Smith says. "And I'm sure people will say no one owes more than me. That's OK. I can live with it. I lived with all of the blame this past year.

"Maybe if we win it all this year, people will forget all about last year.

"It'd only be fair, wouldn't it?"

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