TSG Presents: Great World Series Moments!
Today’s World Series Moment may be one you probably knew was coming if you know baseball and you know TSG. I’m of course talking about Game 1 of the 1988 World Series between the Oakland Athletics and the Los Angeles Dodgers. This is one of the most famous games in World Series history and with good reason.
The game was a tight one from the outset. The Dodgers jumped out to a 2-0 lead early but in the second inning Oakland put up 4 runs of their own, giving them a 4-2 lead. The Dodgers scored another run in the 6th to make it a 4-3 ballgame, which is how it would stay until the bottom of the 9th.
Dennis Eckersley came into the game to close it in the bottom of the 9th for Dave Stewart. Eckersley retired the first 2 batters and walked pinch-hitter Mike Davis. Reliever, Alejandro Pena was scheduled to hit and Kirk Gibson was not expected to pinch hit for him as he had been suffering hampering injuries from the National League Championship Series. Dave Anderson was sent to the on-deck circle to pinch-hit for Pena, but when the at-bat came Gibson limped to the plate.
Gibson valiantly fouled off a few Eckersley offerings and ran the count full. That right there is enough for some classic World Series drama. 4-3 game in the bottom of the 9th, 2 outs, full count, runner on second (he stole) and an injured slugger at the plate.
You have to understand that Gibson was a huge acquisition by the Dodgers and had a good year, leading the team in home runs in the regular season with 25. Not having him in the World Series was a big worry for the Dodgers and using him to pinch hit here was a swing for the fence in and of itself. If Gibson hit the ball in the infield, which was the most likely of scenarios judging by how painful his swings looked, the game would be over. If he got a hold of one, you’d think, that on one leg, it’d simply be a flyball out. What was about to unfold was pure magic.
Gibson remembered the scouting report that had been recited to him by Dodger scout, Mel Didier prior to the series. With a 3-2 count against a left-handed power hitter, Eckersley will absolutely throw a backdoor slider. Gibson called time, stepped out of the box, remembered this, stepped back in and Eckersley threw a backdoor slider. Gibson not so gracefully deposited it into the right field pavillion.
What ensued was an absolute frenzy complete with running limps, fist pumps, ecstatic fans, a bouncing, bounding Tommy Lasorda, one of the greatest and hardest “five’s” coming around 3rd in the history of baseball and one of Vin Scully’s greatest calls of all time.
“High fly ball into right field and, sheee issss, GONE!”
That set the stage for the series and Dodgers ended up winning the World Series 4 games to 1.
Check out this video to see the greatest Dodger home run of all time. It picks up at Mike Davis’ walk and carries into the celebration. If you want to just see the home run pick it up at about 7 minutes in…
It’s kind of neat looking back on that game how many of it’s players are still involved with the game today. Tommy Lasorda works in the front office for the Dodgers. A’s Manager, Tony LaRussa manages the St. Louis Cardinals now. Dodger ace, Orel Hershiser is a commentator for ESPN, Dodger Catcher, Mike Scioscia manages the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. The man that gave up the home run, Dennis Eckersley is also an on-air analyst and the man that hit the homerun, Kirk Gibson, is a bench coach for the Dodgers’ NL West rival, the Arizona Diamondbacks.
What a game that was…