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Smallthoughts: Old School Tuesday …David Justice

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Justice made his major league debut in May 1989, playing for the last-place Atlanta Braves. The young right fielder earned the starting job after Braves fan favorite Dale Murphy was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies. Justice promptly went on an offensive tear during the second half of the 1990 season, finishing with 28 home runs, which helped him claim the National League‘s Rookie of the Year Award. In 1991, the upstart Braves surged to the top of their division and Justice was leading the National League in runs batted in when he was sidelined by a nagging back injury in June. He finished with 87 runs batted in despite the injury and played in his first World Series.

After seeing his production slide slightly in 1992, Justice enjoyed a solid 1993 season. He clubbed 40 home runs and 120 RBIs with 78 walks, finishing third in MVP voting behindBarry Bonds and Lenny Dykstra. Justice was batting .313 with a .427 on-base percentage and .531 slugging average when the strike ended play in 1994.

When baseball returned in 1995, Justice helped his Braves to the World Series against the Cleveland Indians. He drew attention (and boos) when he criticized Atlanta fans for the level of support they were providing the team.[1] Justice ended up a hero, however, when his crucial home run in Game 6 provided the only run in a 1–0 game that clinched the championship.

In May 1996, a swing and miss in a game against the Pittsburgh Pirates caused a season-ending shoulder separation. It would prove to be Justice’s last at bat as a Brave, as he was traded during the final week of Spring Training the following year. On ESPN, Justice stated,

“I love the Braves, so when [Braves president] John Schuerholz looked me in my face and told me ‘I’d bet my house and my family that you won’t be traded’ that’s good enough confidence for me coming from a General Manager, and then out of nowhere, one week later I’m gone.”

Justice was later traded along with outfielder Marquis Grissom to the Cleveland Indians for outfielder Kenny Lofton and relief pitcher Alan Embree.

Smallthoughts:Old School Tuesday salutes …David Justice

MLB debut
May 24, 1989 for the Atlanta Braves
Last MLB appearance
September 29, 2002 for the Oakland Athletics
Career statistics
Batting average .279
Home runs 305
Runs batted in 1,017
Teams
Career highlights and awards
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