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The Kirk Gibson home run happened 25 years ago today

Oct 15, 2013, 11:33 AM EDT


All playoff magic — at least in our lifetimes — is measured against one thing and one thing only. Kirk Gibson taking Dennis Eckersley downtown in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series. Improbable. Impossible. You can’t believe what you just saw. It took the greatest couple of announcers in baseball history to describe it then, so words can hardly begin to describe it now. So we just watch.

I was fifteen years-old, sitting in my living room in Beckley, West Virginia watching it the first time it happened. And no matter how many times I’ve seen it, I have to watch it again.

So let’s watch it again. Here is the entire Game 1 of the 1988 World Series. Gibson comes to bat at the two-hour twenty-nine minute mark.

You can bet that Ernie Johnson, Ron Darling and Cal Ripken will mention this a few times tonight.

  1. The Dangerous Mabry - Oct 15, 2013 at 11:38 AM

    Man, look at him, gesturing and cheering all around the bases. These friggin’ Dodgers are just over the top with their celebrations.

    • mkprz - Oct 15, 2013 at 12:08 PM

      Must not be watching baseball lately.

    • proudlycanadian - Oct 15, 2013 at 12:11 PM

      The St. Louis Cardinals saw the replay and think that he celebrated too much. They wonder why couldn’t he behave as if he had hit a home run before.

      • blacksables - Oct 15, 2013 at 12:18 PM

        This is the way to do it. You know, actually hit the ball out of the park and run the bases like you’ve got someplace to be.

    • bsbiz - Oct 15, 2013 at 1:14 PM

      Not pictured: Five year old Brian McCann coming onto the field and sticking a lollipop in Gibson’s mustache tell him someone could get hurt if he keeps doing that.

    • CyclePower - Oct 15, 2013 at 3:22 PM

      Yeah, and did you see Mickey Hatcher raise his arms while running towards 3rd base after his homer ( around the 27min mark)? Did you see Lasorda get up and cheer? This was, what? ..the 1rst inning? The Dodgers really should have been acting like they’ve been there before because, you know, that’s playing with “class” and the right way to play the game.

      • stlouis1baseball - Oct 15, 2013 at 5:00 PM

        Good luck tonight Cycle!

  2. beefytrout - Oct 15, 2013 at 11:50 AM

    “All grit is measured against one thing and one thing only. Kirk Gibson taking Dennis Eckersley downtown in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series.”

  3. sandrafluke2012 - Oct 15, 2013 at 11:50 AM

    Don’t know if he would have hit that without the baserunner stealing the sign

    • jdillydawg - Oct 15, 2013 at 1:11 PM

      They had scouted Eckersly well all season. Gibson made a very educated guess, and guessed right. He also said he couldn’t do that again in 50 more tries. Steal all the signs you want, you still have to execute.

      Bottom line is, you have no idea if he could have hit that if a little leaguer were pitching, either.

  4. philsieg - Oct 15, 2013 at 11:53 AM

    …at least in our lifetimes…
    You gotta remember, Craig, not everybody here still has training wheels on their bike. 😉

    [curmudgeon] Better than being 15 and watching Gibby? Being 12 and watching Maz win it all. Being 24 and watching Johnny B set up the Reds’ pennant with a game tying bomb in the bottom of the ninth. Gibby just won a game. Maz won a trophy. JB won a pennant (back when winning the pennant actually meant something).[/curmudgeon]

  5. sdelmonte - Oct 15, 2013 at 11:55 AM

    ALL playoff magic? ’86 Mets fans beg to differ.

    • The Dangerous Mabry - Oct 15, 2013 at 12:00 PM

      Little roller up along first…

  6. DelawarePhilliesFan - Oct 15, 2013 at 11:56 AM

    He looks very….gritty

  7. km9000 - Oct 15, 2013 at 11:57 AM

    The best thing about the play other than Scully’s call is the cars in the parking lot hitting their brakes.

    • dlf9 - Oct 15, 2013 at 12:58 PM

      I’m torn between the Vin Scully call and the Jack Buck call. Both were truly amazing. “I do not believe what I just saw” vs. “In the year of the improbable …” I heard Buck’s call live while watching in a college common area where no one was a fan of either team, but we all went nuts anyway. I heard Scully’s call later and think it is him at his best. Can’t go wrong with either.

    • moogro - Oct 15, 2013 at 3:01 PM

      You’d think that it was folks stopping listening to their radios, but the traffic leaving Dodger Stadium is like sitting in a parking lot.

  8. vlock1 - Oct 15, 2013 at 12:12 PM

    Look at how he finished that swing. Look at that. How the hell did that ball get out of Dodger Stadium?

    • beefytrout - Oct 15, 2013 at 12:28 PM


    • km9000 - Oct 15, 2013 at 1:20 PM

      Yeah, that always gets me. If it’d been a movie we’d all be laughing and shouting “fake!”

    • jarathen - Oct 15, 2013 at 4:14 PM

      The Will To Homer.

  9. nfieldr - Oct 15, 2013 at 12:31 PM

    25 years later and I still change the channel anytime this replay comes on.

    Signed, An A’s fan

    • jdillydawg - Oct 15, 2013 at 1:16 PM

      Although Eckersley came out on the losing end, I always thought this just added to his greatness. Eckersley still handles it with such style and still can’t believe Gibson hit that.

      No one else can, either, Dennis. Which is why this was so cool.

  10. jimsjam33 - Oct 15, 2013 at 12:36 PM

    I was there on the third base side nose bleed seats . When Gibson hit the homer the crowd went bezerk and all chaos broke out . I’d never seen anything like that again . Vin Scully was right about the cars in the parking lot . Hundreds of fans had given up on the Dodgers and went to their cars to beat the traffic out of the stadium . You could see a sea of red taillights going out of the stadium , just like an ant line mopping up crumbs on a deserted dinner room floor . When Gibson hit the homer all the brake lights hit at once and Dodger Stadium lit up like the Fourth of July . It was spectacular. People left their cars in place and ran back to the exits . Too bad it was too late . They missed the greatest moment in baseball sports history .

    • proudlycanadian - Oct 15, 2013 at 12:44 PM

      You had me until the last sentence.

    • psuorioles - Oct 15, 2013 at 4:03 PM

      I know a lot of people now-a-days like watching games from home, due to technology and prices at the park… but not me, I’d much rather see the game in person for moments like this. I’ve never seen something this magical, but I could only imagine the feeling in Dodger Stadium that night… Awesome!

  11. franklb - Oct 15, 2013 at 12:53 PM

    Vin Scully has always known when not to talk over the action, when to let the moment speak for itself. And then:

    “In a year that has been so improbable, the impossible has happened.”


  12. aceshigh11 - Oct 15, 2013 at 1:29 PM

    I was 10 when this game happened and was watching with my Dad, a long-time Dodgers fan from Brooklyn…I remember the Canseco grand slam but went to bed at some point.

    Next morning, my Dad said that I’d missed something INCREDIBLE.

    He was right.

    • cohnjusack - Oct 15, 2013 at 1:39 PM

      I’m willing to guess that Game 1 of the 1988 World Series was the only time both the AL and NL MVPs homered in the 1st game of the World Series.

    • umrguy42 - Oct 16, 2013 at 10:01 AM

      If it makes you feel any better – Game 6 of the 2011 WS, I turned it off in disgust and went to bed (in my defense, it was also like quarter after midnight, with work in the morning) after the Rangers homered in the top of the 10th. Couldn’t stand to watch a team celebrate a WS win on my team’s home field.

      Boy, did I feel stupid the next morning…

  13. moogro - Oct 15, 2013 at 1:41 PM

    This broadcast is amazing. The little interview vignettes that pop in here and there are fantastic. They should bring that back. And listening to Vin instead of Buck. It’s pretty cool TBS is at least throwing in Vin’s calls on some plays in the recaps.

  14. hojo20 - Oct 15, 2013 at 1:49 PM

    That was a classic. Also, Gibson opened the game (Debbie sang the National Anthem) and Gibson ended the game.

  15. elmo - Oct 15, 2013 at 1:59 PM

    I was 16 and there with my dad. Dodgers were looking overmatched most of the game. It only started to get electric when Gibson showed up in the on deck circle. I still remember how the stadium rumbled and shook after the home run. Us and all the other fans around us were standing on top of our seats and jumping up and down, screaming our heads off. I actually spontaneously hugged my dad, no small feat for a sullen teenager. One of these days I’ll watch the whole game just to see how it compares to my memory of it.

  16. stevenewatson - Oct 15, 2013 at 2:20 PM

    Fun to watch. Lots of fun stuff other than the homer too.

    Fun to see such a great WS game come in a 2:30 of playing time!

    Fun to see that skinny 1B Eck. was throwing over to. Who’s that tall, lean “McGwire?”

  17. losangelesfan - Oct 15, 2013 at 2:30 PM

    ‘Now remember, and don’t ever forget this, if you’re up in the ninth inning and we’re down or it’s tied and you get to 3 and 2 against Eckersley. … Partner, sure as I’m standing here breathing, you’re going to see a 3-2 backdoor slider.’

    Mel Didier

    Dodgers advance scout in hitters meeting before the game

    • rje49 - Oct 15, 2013 at 3:31 PM

      The way I recall Gibson’s remark, telling himself about the scouting report, “if you’re a left-handed batter and he gets two strikes on you, partner, he’ll throw the back-door slider”.
      Never heard any suggestion about stealing a sign until an above comment.

  18. moogro - Oct 15, 2013 at 3:25 PM

    I got sucked in and watched the whole damn thing while attempting to work.

    Some awesome things about that broadcast:

    1) The Citibank “keys to the game” narrated by Costas and the player of the game are not video replays, but video stills put in a small, fake wooden frames in the center of the screen.

    2) The dreaded foul territory running lane makes an appearance.

    Dave Parker getting called out on a nubber up the first base line, because the first baseman didn’t try to extend into the field to catch the throw from the pitcher, and the ball hits him in the shoulder. Even though Parker ran directly on top of the foul line straight to the base. The ruling? As the runner, he didn’t avail himself of the the running lane in foul territory as a courtesy to the defense to throw him out easier. La Russa comes out to argue, but is shut down. Later in the game, McGwire hit a ball to the identical spot, ran a route identical to Parker’s, and was only called out on the throw that the first baseman reached over to catch. What conclusions would a first-time baseball watcher draw? On a slow roller toward first that might be a difficult to field, have your first baseman hide behind the runner for the automatic out.

    3) Garagiola defending the “unfair” steroid charges against Canseco. After all, “there’s strength, and then there’s weight training, and he is all strength.” Whatever that means. Also he relays Canseco’s concerns about “not wanting to influence the youth of Miami,” that steroids are how you can make it.

    3) The prescient way Vin asked “where’s Gibson?” in the first and eighth innings, accompanied by a pan of the bench and he was nowhere to be found. Also the discussion that he probably wouldn’t play anyway only added to story when Gibson showed up out of the tunnel in the ninth with a batting helmet on.

    I think we all know/knew someone that did an awesome impersonation of that Gibson at-bat. Great stuff.

  19. nothanksimdriving123 - Oct 15, 2013 at 3:30 PM

    I admit I was cheering for the A’s that year, and when the ball went into the seats, I recall thinking, “F**k, the f**king Dodgers just won the f**king World Series.” I don’t recall ever having such certainty after the first game of any other WS. Yeah, I had a moment of doubt after Oakland won G3, but it was fleeting.

  20. racksie - Oct 15, 2013 at 3:49 PM

    Or being 24 and and hearing “we’ll see you tomorrow night” when Kirby Puckett jacked one, and forced game 7 in ’91, giving us one of the best post season pitching performances ever. See? It’s all subjective Craig.

    • jarathen - Oct 15, 2013 at 4:18 PM

      It really is. When Scott Spiezio hit that homer in Game 6, 2002, Scott freaking Spiezio, I thought, “No, that can’t happen… can it?” Then the inning was over and the Angels were still down 5-3. And they got going again, and even against Robb Nen, who struck out about 10 batters every 9 innings, Troy Glaus managed to hit the double that turned the tide.

      From 5-0 and a World Series exit to a rousing two-inning rally and Game 7… yeah, that was pretty awesome.

      Not even a fan of the Jays, but one of my biggest baseball memories will always be Joe Carter going yard off of Mitch Williams.

    • Jeremy T - Oct 15, 2013 at 4:42 PM

      Extremely subjective. I’m going to get down-thumbed into oblivion for this, but being 13 for the 2003 ALCS Game 7 is going to stick with me for the rest of my life.

      • stlouis1baseball - Oct 15, 2013 at 5:08 PM

        You are good Jeremy. Everyone is entitled to their favorite.
        After all…it’s yours…own it.
        Mine? “Go Crazy folks…go crazy.” It was 1985. I was also 13.
        And the fact we didn’t ultimately win the WS has no bearing whatsoever.

  21. deacon85 - Oct 15, 2013 at 10:22 PM

    1975, Game Six; the Fisk home run was just one part of the drama. It also included a Dwight Evans catch that Sparky Anderson said was the best he ever saw, a Bernie Carbo pinch-hit three run home in the 8th inning to bring the Sox back to life, Fred Lynn crashing against the centerfield wall, leaving Fenway deathly quiet, George Foster throwing out Denny Doyle in the bottom of the 9th. For those of us who recall watching this game on TV, Kirk Gibson’s home run is not the game against which all playoff moments are measured. I suppose each generation has its own magic moment. For me, 1975 game six is the game of the ages.

    • dexterismyhero - Oct 16, 2013 at 11:59 AM

      1970 All Star game in Cincinnati. Just missed a Willie McCovey foul ball. Yaz goes 4-6 and Dick Dietz hit a home run. Frank Robinson & Tommy Harper playing for the American League after being traded by the Reds. So many stars in that game. Rose crushing Fosse.

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