Kirk Gibson: 1988 World Series Game 1

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Game 1 of the 1988 World Series between the Oakland A’s and the Los Angeles Dodgers was held at Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles on 15th October 1988. Commentator for this game is the legendary Vin Scully, with colour commentary Joe Garagiola. It will be remembered for the 1 at bat of Kirk Gibson.

The Oakland A’s and the Los Angeles Dodgers had reached the premiere event of the 1988 baseball season, the World Series with regular-season records of 104-58 (.642) and 94-67 (.583) respectively.

Game 1 was a mixed affair, at least for 8 and a half innings, the Dodgers scoring 2 in the bottom of the first, quickly followed by Oakland scoring 4 in the top of the second. The next 3 innings was almost a pitching duel,  that is until the Dodgers scored a run in the bottom of the sixth. Two more innings of pitcher versus pitcher followed, but everthing changed in the bottom of the ninth, something that will be remembered by everyone watching.

Bottom of the Ninth

The stage is now set for a most memorable half-inning. Dennis Eckersley, a future Hall of Fame pitcher, had been brought in to close down the Dodgers. Eckersley quickly retires the first two batters, Mike Scioscia and Jeff Hamilton. With Mike Davis now at the plate with a 1-3 count, Tom Lasorda makes a decision that at first seems incredulous, he brings in Kirk Gibson.

Gibson, who has not played in the game up until this point, slowly takes a few practice swings, the Dodgers crowd is going crazy at seeing who is in the on-deck circle. What is obvious to everyone though, is that Gibson is not swinging the bat easily. With a bad hamstring on his left leg and a swollen right knee, it’s surprising that he can swing the bat at all.

Kirk Gibson at the Plate

Eckersley now throws another ball to Davis, putting him on first. Gibson now walks, slowly, to the plate. Eckersley’s first pitch is fouled into the 3rd base stands, and still, the thousands of Dodgers fans are continuing to shout and scream.

In the commentary booth, Vin Scullys tells viewers “ the fact that with the left leg bothering him he can’t push off, now he can’t push off and he can’t land”.

2 Out, 1 On and an 0-1 Count

So now with 2 out, 1 on and Gibson 0-1, Eckersley winds up for pitch 2 but throws to first to try and get Davis. Once again Eckersley winds up for pitch 2, again Gibson manages to foul the pitch into the 3rd base stands. The count is now 0-2, and again Eckersley attempts to get Davis out by throwing to McGwire at 1st base, an attempt that got the Dodger fans booing. And again, Eckersley attempts to get Davis out at 1st, which brings only more booing from the crowd.

Gibson finally gets a pitch, but only manages to push it foul down towards 1st base. It is obvious to everyone in the stadium that Gibson is struggling to run, Joe Garagiola sums it up in saying “he almost has to talk to his legs telling them to get going we have to get outa here”. The count is still 0-2.

Eckersley throws pitch 4, caught by the catcher, who almost throws out Davis at first, thankfully for Gibson it was a ball. The count is now 1-2, Gibson is still alive in the inning.  Here’s the wind-up and another ball fouled off into the 3rd base stands by Gibson. Eckersley has now thrown 15 consecutive fastballs. And still, the count remains at 1-2. Eckersley takes the sign and pitches, another ball the count now goes to 2-2.

Once more Eckersley tries to get out of the inning by trying to throw out Davis at first base. Eckersley winds up and at the moment of his release, Davis runs and steals 2nd base without even a chance for the catcher to throw to 2nd. Now the opportunity for a double play has been taken away, a hit deep in the outfield from Gibson could bring in the tieing run.

3-2 Count for Kirk Gibson

Now the count is 3-2. If the next pitch is a strike, Oaklands wins game 1, if it’s a ball the Dodgers have 2 men on base, with the winning run on 1st. But what if….

Gibson steps out of the batters’ box, trying to compose himself, taking a deep breath he steps back in. Eckersley pitches and… Commentary by Vin Scully

“High fly ball into right field, she i-i-i-i-is gone! -long pause- In a year that has been so improbable, the impossible has happened!”.

Kirk Gibson Round the Bases

Kirk Gibson Hits Walk Off Home Run

A most unlikely  2 run homer from Kirk Gibson wins game one of the 1988 World Series. Gibson now slowly rounds 1st base, fist-pumping as he goes. The Dodger’s fans are going absolutely. As Gibson continues his, very slow, run around the bases, his very excited teammates begin to congregate at home plate. As soon as he arrives they mob him.

The joy on Gibson’s face says it all.

This is one of many memorable moments in baseball. To end this brief memory of the “Gibson walk of Home Run”, it only remains to say that the Los Angeles Dodgers won the World Series 4-1 over the Oakland A’s, thanks to some excellent pitching, which shut down the power-hitting of both Canseco and McGwire.

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