The scrappy Los Angeles Dodgers seemingly had no chance against the powerful Bash Brothers-led Oakland Athletics in the 1988 World Series. And they certainly had no chance when an injured Kirk Gibson came to the plate with two outs in the ninth inning in Game 1 against the best reliever in baseball, Dennis Eckersley. The Dodgers were down by one run with Mike Davis on base but it didn't matter. There was no way Gibson could even the swing the bat, let alone hit against Eckersley.
After all, Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully had announced before the game that Gibson wouldn't be available to play because of two bad knees and a stomach virus. But sure enough, Gibson strolled to the plate as a pinch-hitter seemingly using the bat as a cane to get to the plate. Gibson worked the count to 3-2 before sending a backdoor slider deep into right field for one of the most memorable home runs in baseball history and gave the Dodgers a 5-4 win, much to the delight of the fans who stayed at Dodger Stadium that night. Scully said it best, after waiting 67 seconds to let the play speak for itself, "In a year that has been so improbable, the impossible has happened!" Now Dodgers fans can relive the game because every day from now to Spring Training, MLB.com/Live will air a classic game on Baseball's Best. Gibson's heroics can be seen at Saturday at 8 a.m. PT. It wasn't as though the home run came out of nowhere. Gibson was the National League MVP that season, but what made it so unbelievable is that Gibson was so hobbled to the point where it hurt to just watch him swing. And it was even more unbelievable because it came against Eckersley, who had a 2.35 ERA that season and saved 45 games. But the home run came with the help of Dodgers scout Mel Didier, who told Gibson to watch for a backdoor slider when Eckersley has a 3-2 count. Gibson, though, was lucky to even get to a full count when he quickly fell into an 0-2 hole, including a soft ground ball toward first base, which ended up going foul. Once Gibson worked his way to a 3-2 count, he stepped out of the box and remembered Didier's advice. And sure enough, Eckersley threw the slider and the rest is history. But that history couldn't have happened if the Dodgers didn't have another unlikely two-run home run in the first inning by Mickey Hatcher and Mike Scioscia's RBI single in the sixth inning. And, it couldn't have happened without Davis' two-out walk in the ninth. As for the A's, their four runs came on one swing when Jose Canseco hit a grand slam in the second inning that appeared to be the backbreaker for the Dodgers. But Oakland's lead wasn't to be as it was the first time that a team had been trailing in a World Series game and homered to win in the bottom of the ninth. The home run effectively sucked the life out of the A's, who were heavily favored against the Dodgers. The Dodgers had not had one regular hit .300 or drive in more than 90 runs all year, while the A's were led by Mark McGwire and Canseco, who hit 32 and 42 home runs respectively. The Dodgers ended up shocking the A's and won the World Series in five games behind the pitching of Orel Hershisher, who was named World Series MVP. As for Gibson, his memorable home run was his only at-bat of the World Series but he sure made it count.
Rhett Bollinger is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.