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Greatest moments in Dodger history, No. 23: Justin Turner’s walkoff homer in 2017 NLCS

Justin Turner
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

Hi, and welcome to another edition of Dodgers Dugout. My name is Houston Mitchell, and the greatest moments countdown continues

In December, I asked you to send me your list of the 10 greatest moments in Dodgers history, and boy did you all respond, as I received 7,237 ballots.

The way it works: You listed your moments in order, and I assigned points, with first place getting 12 points, second place nine, third place eight, all the way down to one point for 10th. Add up the points and we get a top 25. We will be counting down the moments over the next few weeks, with No. 1 being revealed on or around opening day.

So without further ado, let’s continue the countdown.

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No. 23: Justin Turner’s walkoff homer in 2017 NLCS Game 2 (25 first-place votes, 3,083 points)

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Way back in 2017, it seemed as if the Dodgers were destined to win the World Series. They won 104 games during the regular season, several of them stirring comeback victories, and swept Arizona. Next up, the defending World Series champion Chicago Cubs, who had defeated the Dodgers in the 2016 NLCS.

Dodger fans couldn’t quite relax, even after winning Game 1, because the Cubs were a good team. But Game 2 changed that, allowing everyone to take a deep breath and realize the Dodgers were destined to win the World Series (little did we know).

Game 2 took place on Oct. 15, the 29th anniversary of Kirk Gibson‘s walkoff homer in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series.

The score was tied, 1-1, going into the bottom of the ninth. Reliever Brian Duensing was on the mound for the Cubs and walked Yasiel Puig on four pitches. Charlie Culberson bunted him to second and Cubs manager Joe Maddon brought John Lackey into the game. He walked Chris Taylor, then fell behind Turner, 1-0. The next pitch was a fastball. Turner unloaded and hit the ball to deep center. A fan caught it. Game over.

“I can’t even put it into words right now,” Turner said after the game. “It’s incredible. I was floating.”

“That’s the guy we want up there,” catcher Austin Barnes said.

“He’s probably the most clutch player I’ve ever played with,” Taylor said.

“J.T.,” Dave Roberts said, “is that guy for us.”

Turns out the Dodgers weren’t destined to win the World Series, because a team decided to cheat. But that doesn’t ruin this moment, the 23rd greatest moment in Dodger history.

Random quotes from Spring Training

Mookie Betts, on his 2020 season: “I mean, it was serviceable. It got the job done. That’s what we’re here for.”

Roberts, when told of Betts’ self-evaluation: “Man, I’ll take serviceable if that’s what he classified it as. But Mookie, like all great players, they expect a lot from themselves.”

Corey Seager, on his impending free agency and whether a contract extension is in the works: “I don’t really want to talk about it, to be honest. That’s not my focus. It’s never been about that. It’s always been about showing up that day and doing what you can to help the team. I don’t want the extra effort to have to talk about that in the media. I just want to go out and do my job and let the chips fall.”

Roberts, on how Kenley Jansen looked during a workout session: “Exceptional. Just the life to the fastball. The command was great. The fastball, the cutter, the two-seamer, the breaking ball, everything was really on point today.”

Cody Bellinger, on whether he will forearm bash teammates this season after dislocating his shoulder doing it during the playoffs: “Never again. I will be a handshake guy for the rest of my career, that’s for sure. I won’t ever go back to it.”

Zach McKinstry, on replacing super-sub Kiké Hernández: “That’s the goal. You see [Hernández] leave, you’re kind of in that same role throughout the minor league system and they just kind of bring you up that way so definitely those are the shoes I think I need to fill and I think I’m right there competing for that spot and it’s up for the taking.”

Your first Dodgers memory

Since I still have a lot of these, “Your first Dodgers memory” returns this season. If you haven’t already, I’d still love for you to send me your first Dodgers memory, and it might run in an upcoming Dodgers Dugout. Include your name and where you live. And don’t send only a sentence. Tell why that memory sticks out in your mind. You can email me your memory at houston.mitchell@latimes.com. Thanks.

Jack Evans: My Dad was a long-time Brooklyn Dodgers fan. When the Dodgers moved to Los Angeles, he listened to Vin Scully‘s play-by-play every night. My first Dodgers memory is my Dad taking me to a Dodgers game at the Coliseum in 1959. I was only 7 and we sat behind the tall screen in left field. I don’t remember any details about the game except the Dodgers lost to the Giants. What I do remember is the night was windy and the minute hand of the clock on the Peristyle had to fight the wind to get to the top of the hour. That was the start of a lifetime of memories I shared with my Dad. I remember the Carnation Frozen Malts with the small wooden spoon. The twilight doubleheader at Dodger Stadium when we would take ham and cheese on rye bread sandwiches to eat between games. I remember being 10, 11 or 12 years old and sitting on the edge of the seat at Dodger Stadium in anticipation of the start of the game. And we never left early! My Dad listened to the game every night at the kitchen table while he read the newspaper. My bedroom was off the kitchen and I remember l would fall asleep listening to the game. So many, fun memories.

Glenn W. Sinclair of Penticton, British Columbia, Canada: I was a young kid in the Canadian prairies and because of the time zone differences, when I came home for lunch from school (early 1950’s) I was allowed to listen to World Series games. Only ones we would? If the Dodgers from Brooklyn were playing. My Dad loved Roy Campanella and Jackie Robinson... my first favorite was Duke Snider... I believe it was 1952... I was in Grade 3...

Later, when I was running my consulting firm, I was in California on business and took in a live game at Chavez Ravine. That was pretty special too.

Jim Jenal: When Dodger Stadium opened in 1962, my Dad, along with a bunch of his buddies at work, purchased a box –- Loge section 109, on the rail –- and he would go to roughly 20 games each year. From time-to-time he would swap seats so that he had two tickets for a particular game and I would get to go along. (My sisters not being baseball fans particularly.) But somehow my Dad convinced a buddy to give up his seat for the first Sunday game ever played there and I got to go. It was April 15, 1962 and I was in second grade. I don’t remember anything about the game itself, but I do recall that the Dodgers had foot-long hot dogs for that game.

I would go on to spend many games in that box with my Dad, who would strap his transistor radio to the rail so that we could listen to Vinny as we watched the game.

And finally

Dodger fans are very familiar with this song (It’s a Beautiful Day for a Ballgame”), played on the radio before Dodger games. Here is the song in its entirety. Watch and listen here.

Until next time...

Have a comment or something you’d like to see in a future Dodgers newsletter? Email me at houston.mitchell@latimes.com, and follow me on Twitter at @latimeshouston. To get this newsletter in your inbox, click here.


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