One hit, one walk or even one long out into the Shea Stadium outfield would have forced a Game 6 in the 1999 National League Championship Series. And Robin Ventura almost outdid himself, launching a home run off of the Braves' Kevin McGlinchy.
The celebration was chaotic in the fans' No. 6 favorite moment at Shea. While Roger Cedeno crossed home, Todd Pratt reversed course toward Ventura, stopping the hero in his tracks.
Ventura didn't need to touch second base. Hitting a home run with the bags loaded afforded him the right to do so. Normally, it would have handed the Mets four runs. But the third baseman was content with nothing more than a 4-3 win over the Braves in Game 5, setting forth what would always be remembered as the "grand slam single".
"I never saw it go out. Did it?" Mets manager Bobby Valentine said after the game, according to ESPN.com. "Then it's a grand slam. But he never touched the bases? I'll be doggone!"
The fabulous 15th began with a Shawon Dunston single, starting the Mets in their pursuit of a comeback from a 3-2 deficit. Dunston would steal second before Matt Franco took first on a walk. Both runners advanced on a sacrifice bunt by Edgardo Alfonzo.
With a base open, John Olerud was intentionally walked to load the bases, and in a game in which a League Championship-record 45 players were used, Cedeno pinch-ran for Franco. That allowed a Pratt walk to force in the tying run with Ventura on deck.
"Everybody had all the tough at-bats before me, mine I was just trying to put the barrel on it," Ventura said of his walk-off hit, according to ESPN.com. "As long as I got to first base, I don't care. It was a great game to be involved in, to win it."
Jon Blau is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less