Conrad makes mark with walk-off slam
Pinch-hitter capped Braves' improbable comeback Thursday
PITTSBURGH -- Jesse Conrad went to Turner Field on Thursday afternoon to allow her children a chance to say goodbye to their father before he embarked on a seven-day road trip. But like Braves manager Bobby Cox, she didn't have the chance to see Brooks Conrad make the celebratory trip around the bases on his walk-off grand slam in a 10-9 win over the Reds.
"I never saw him run the bases," Cox said. "I thought [Reds left fielder Laynce Nix] caught the ball. Then all of a sudden, everybody started charging out on the field."
Once Conrad's opposite-field drive against Francisco Cordero glanced off Nix's glove, hit the top of the outfield wall and then fell over, Braves players and coaches began sprinting and leaping out of the dugout.
Thinking that Nix had secured the catch, Conrad put his hands on his helmet and turned back toward first base with disappointed disgust. But as he saw his teammates running toward him, the journeyman infielder knew it was time to begin sprinting around the bases and enjoy a moment that he has replayed numerous times during multiple conversations with friends, some of whom provided light-hearted congratulatory messages.
"A lot of my buddies called me up and said, 'Act like you've hit a home run before,'" Conrad said. "The whole thing was a complete debacle."
Most Braves fans will simply remember that Conrad hit a walk-off grand slam that completed what might have been the greatest comeback in the organization's history. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, this marked the first time that any Braves club had erased a deficit of at least six runs in the ninth inning and recorded a victory without the need for extra innings.
But Conrad's memories are also going to include his initial reaction and the fact that he was nearly hit in the head with the helmet he tossed forward in celebratory fashion as he neared the plate. He had the opportunity to see all of this multiple times while watching numerous replays in his Pittsburgh hotel room on Thursday night.
"I wanted to see it to see how stupid I looked," Conrad said. "I just kept laughing at myself. I looked like a dork out there."
Conrad's wife, Jesse, has since been able to see the multiple replays of a moment that instantly gave her husband fame in the baseball world. But when the grand slam was drilled over the left-field wall, she was in the parking lot, primarily because their one-year old daughter, Reese, was asleep in her car seat.
"She's kind of upset that she missed it, but it's kind of a funny story," Conrad said.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.