28 years ago today, Kirk Gibson hit his iconic World Series home run
October. Los Angeles Dodgers. Postseason baseball. Ninth inning. Injured superstar.
2016, right? Not quite.
While this year's Dodgers and their fans bask in the glory of Clayton Kershaw's save Thursday that doused the Washington Nationals, Oct. 15, 1988, is the anniversary of a stirring, game-winning performance by another Los Angeles legend.
The scene 28 years ago was Dodger Stadium. Game One of the World Series against the Oakland Athletics. A Saturday night, no less, just as Game 1 of this NLCS between the Dodgers and Cubs will be. Kirk Gibson, hobbled by injuries to both legs, sat and watched as the Dodgers took a 2-0 lead in the first. Jose Canseco countered with a grand slam to give Oakland a 4-2 advantage in the second and the lead held up as the Dodgers could only add another run heading into their last at-bat.
Gibson was in the trainer's room listening to the game. He heard Vin Scully say, "Well, the man who's been there for the Dodgers all season, Kirk Gibson, is not in the dugout and will not be here for them tonight."
That set Gibson off. He exited the trainer's table and, limping toward the dugout, told clubhouse man Mitch Pool to inform hitting coach Ben Hines and Tommy Lasorda that he's going to get himself ready to pinch hit.
With Mike Davis on first and two out, the Dodgers manager rolled the dice, causing the legendary Scully to say, "And look who's coming up."
A's closer Dennis Eckersley, who had not allowed a home run since Aug. 24, got ahead 0-2. Gibson worked the count back full. Then, with the crowd in a frenzy, this happened:
Gibson drove the game-winning home run to right field. Legendary Dodgers announcer Vin Scully was on the call, delivering the time-tested line, "High fly ball into right field. She is gone! ... In a year that has been so improbable, the impossible has happened."
Here's the extended call from Scully on the entire at-bat and the aftermath:
The Dodgers won the game, 5-4, and went on to win the series in five games, still their most recent World Series triumph. The home run was Gibson's only at-bat in the series.
"The fans really pumped me up," he said at a press conference following the game. "I didn't even think about the pain. I was just trying to visualize hitting."
Will history repeat itself 18 years later? Time will tell, but another chapter in Los Angeles Dodgers baseball lore was written by Clayton Kershaw on Thursday.