That hit killed me. I was 15 yrs old and a HUGE A's fan. That at-bat changed what was, up until then, an amazing season. I can still remember exactly where I was sitting and I think both Eckersley and I had the same expression on our faces.
That was great! I remember watching that on TV live. My whole family was gathered around the whole TV the whole game, I will never forget that. My family is all Dodger Fans so, it will ALWAYS be special. He barely limped around the bases, truly a great baseball moment.
The 1988 World Series home run
In the 1988 World Series against the Oakland Athletics, Gibson -- the 1988 NL MVP -- saw only a single plate appearance, but it was one of the most memorable and oft-replayed in baseball history. Gibson had severely injured both legs during the League Championship Series and had a stomach virus. He was not expected to play at all. In Game 1 on October 15, 1988 (at Dodger Stadium), with the Dodgers trailing by a score of 4â€“3, Mike Davis on first, and two out in the ninth inning, manager Tommy Lasorda inserted Gibson as a pinch hitter. Earlier, the TV camera had scanned the dugout and Vin Scully (the legendary Dodger announcer, who was calling the game with Joe Garagiola for NBC) observed that Gibson was nowhere to be found. According to legend, he was in the clubhouse undergoing physical therapy and saw this on the television, spurring him to get back in the dugout and tell Lasorda he was ready if needed. When Gibson received the news that he would pinch-hit, he went to the clubhouse batting-cage to warm-up. Suffering through such terrible pain in his knee, it is said he was wincing and nearly collapsing after every practice swing.
Gibson hobbled up to the plate with Scully commenting, "Look who's coming up!" He was facing Dennis Eckersley. Gibson quickly got behind in the count, 0-2, but received a few outside pitches from Eckersley to work to a 3â€“2 count. On the sixth pitch of his at bat, a ball, Davis stole second. The A's could have walked Gibson to face Steve Sax, but chose to pitch to him, just as Gossage had done four years earlier. With an awkward, almost casual swing, Gibson used pure upper-body strength to smack a 3â€“2 backdoor slider over the right-field fence. He hobbled around the bases and pumped his fist as his jubilant teammates stormed the field. The Dodgers won the game, 5â€“4. The telecast of the home run is also notable because the shot of the ball flying over the wall also captures the taillights of the cars leaving the lot, presumably filled with fans who had either given up hope and were merely leaving early to avoid the traffic (a standard Dodger Stadium fan stereotype).
Gibson later said that prior to the Series, Dodger scout Mel Didier had provided a report on Eckersley that claimed with a 3-2 count against a left-handed hitter, one could be absolutely certain that Eckersley would throw a backdoor slider. Gibson said that when the count reached 3-2, he stepped out of the batter's box and, in his mind, could hear Didier's voice, with its distinctive Southern drawl, reiterating that same piece of advice. With that thought in mind, Gibson stepped back into the batter's box; and thus when Eckersley did in fact throw a backdoor slider, it was, thanks to Didier, exactly the pitch Gibson was looking for.
The home run was so memorable that it was included as a finalist in a Major League Baseball contest to determine the sport's "Greatest Moment of All-Time." For years after the fact, it was regularly used in This Week in Baseball's closing montage sequence. An edited audio of Scully's 1988 call has been used in 2005 post-season action, in a TV ad featuring a recreational softball game, with a portly player essentially re-enacting that entire moment as he hits the softball over the right field fence to win the game. It was in competition on ESPN's SportsCenter for the Greatest Sports Highlight of All-Time
That home run, Mickey Hatcher, Orel...I hate 1988. That year was supposed to be our year. 1986 was the excitement of the new kids, 1987 was the growth to make the playoffs, 1988 was supposed to be our year. Sure, we made it to the big game in 1989, but by then the A's were an unstoppable machine.
I can still remember seeing Kirk Gibson score from 2nd base on a wild pitch in the September playoff hunt. I can still remember seeing the Giants score off of Orel before he made his soon to be record breaking scoreless inning streak, only to see the play waived off and turned into a double play because of interference. What horse shit. I will always hate 1988.