RELIVING THE MOMENT
Twenty years ago today, Kirk Gibson hit his legendary pinch-hit home run off of Dennis Eckersley in Game 1 of the World Series. It was voted the greatest moment in L.A. sports history in a poll conducted by the Los Angeles Sports Council in 1995. And it will probably take something similar for the Dodgers to overcome a 3-1 series deficit to the Philadelphia Phillies and advance to the World Series this year.
Recently, Times staff writers Houston Mitchell, Dylan Hernandez and Mike DiGiovanna tracked down several members of that 1988 team and asked them to share their recollections of that season, and of Gibson’s homer. Gibson, now a bench coach with the Arizona Diamondbacks, recently shared his memories from that season:
* What is your most memorable moment from that season?
“When we won the World Series, celebrating in that small Oakland locker room and on the plane back to L.A. Because when you do that, along the way, I don’t know who picked us that year. Probably nobody. So we always felt like we were against the odds. Then you get closer and closer and closer and you’re scared things are going to turn on you the wrong way and they never did. Just getting that last out right there, knowing that it was real.”
* What went through your mind when you hit that Game 1 homer?
“First of all, it was like almost some kind of a foolish thing to really go up there and hit just because of the shape I was in. Just really sitting there in the clubhouse and almost dreaming about doing it, then to go up there and do it, it was like ‘Can you believe it?’
“I remember when I was rounding the bases, my parents went through my mind. Throughout my career, there were a lot of doubters, a lot of people who directed a lot of criticism at me. People would say things to my dad, and initially, early in my career, they had to defend me. I told them, ‘You guys don’t have to defend me. I’m going to bust it and I’m going to fail sometimes. But we’ll have a laugh someday that it will all be worth it.’
“When I did it, I thought, ‘This is the moment.’ Literally as I was rounding the bases, past second base. When I got to home plate I remember thinking, ‘You guys don’t jump on me,’ because I was hurting. I was like, ‘no, no,’ but it didn’t matter. Then right at the end of the game when I went in, I think it was Bob Costas, he wanted me to go right on TV. I said, ‘No,’ because I wanted to go in and celebrate with my teammates. I walked in and everybody waited. Then jumped around. Then I went back out and did the interview with Bob Costas, I believe. It was on the scoreboard. I went out there five to 10 minutes later and nobody had left.”
* Where do you keep your World Series ring?
“That’s kind of personal. I’ve worn it probably less than five times. I keep it in a safe place; it’s secure. It’s in a safe. I don’t wear jewelry. I can’t even think of the last time I had it on. It’s a keepsake. They’re all too big. When someone shakes your hand it almost breaks your finger.”
-- Houston Mitchell