Hi, and welcome to another edition of Dodgers Dugout. My name is Houston Mitchell and let’s get right to No. 22 in our countdown.
The 25 greatest Dodgers, No. 22: Kirk Gibson (16 first-place votes, 4,044 points)
Fifty years from now, some people who don’t know any better will look at the numbers and wonder how Kirk Gibson is considered among the greatest Dodgers. He only played for three years for the team, hitting .264 with 42 homers.
Heading into the 1988 season, the Dodgers were coming off two bad seasons and had a lot of players with reputations for not always giving 100% on the field. General Manager Fred Claire changed all that when he signed Gibson to a three-year deal.
During spring training, teammate Jesse Orosco thought it would be funny to smear lamp black inside Gibson’s cap before a game. Gibson took his cap off and his forehead was covered with it. A lot of players laughed. Not Gibson. He told Manager Tommy Lasorda to call the team in for a meeting, where he told the team he could tell why they were a bunch of losers and said he was here to win games. He said if you need someone to defend you after you hit a batter, I’ll be right there by your side, but that it’s time to get serious about winning.
“I did what I had to do to get my point across, and that’s that,” Gibson said in 1988. “Basically, I don’t want to be a part of their fun and comedy act. I’m not a radical guy. I go by the rules. This other bull is foreign to me. I like to have a good time, but a good time to me is winning.”
The Dodgers listened. They dominated the division, led by Gibson.
And then came Game 1 of the World Series. You can watch what happened here.
And that’s why Kirk Gibson is one of the 25 greatest Dodgers of all time.
Note: A reminder, I received 8,382 ballots from newsletter readers who sent me their choices for the top 10 Dodgers of all time. Points were assigned based on ranking, with the first-place choice getting 12 points, second place getting 10, third place eight, down to one point for 10th place. After tabulating the ballots, I will be presenting the top 25 in points. We will be counting down Nos. 25 to 11, one each weekday, for the next three weeks. Then we will time the top 10 so No. 1 unveils on March 29, the day the season opens. There will be separate newsletters for any news that comes out of spring training.
It looks like Chase Utley will be back. Read about it here.