Game 1For more details on this topic, see Kirk Gibson 1988 World Series home run.
Saturday, October 15, 1988 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, California
|WP: Alejandro Peña (1–0) LP: Dennis Eckersley (0–1)
OAK: José Canseco (1)
LAD: Mickey Hatcher (1), Kirk Gibson (1)
Because of using ace Orel Hershiser in Game 7 of the NLCS, the Dodgers had to open with rookie Tim Belcher in Game 1. Meanwhile, Oakland sent a well-rested Dave Stewart to the mound. Both pitchers, however, would have their troubles in this game starting out. Belcher loaded the bases in the first by giving up a single to Dave Henderson, then hitting José Canseco and walking Mark McGwire. Canseco was hit in the forearm as he checked his swing, but home plate umpire Doug Harvey signaled a strike, thinking the ball had hit Canseco's bat. Audio from the game seemed to confirm this, but replays showed the ball hit Canseco in the forearm. Mark McGwire would comment later, "Jose's arms are as hard as a bat, so I can see where Harvey was confused." Terry Steinbach flied out, however, to end the threat.
Stewart's problems began in the bottom of the first when he hit Steve Sax with his first pitch. After retiring Franklin Stubbs, Stewart balked Sax to second. Mickey Hatcher, who hit only one homer all season, then shocked the crowd by hitting a two-run shot off Stewart. Hatcher further excited the Dodger stadium fans by running full speed around the bases, prompting Vin Scully to comment, "He's a Saturday Evening Post character!" Commentator Joe Garagiola noted, "He ran in like they thought they were going to take it off the scoreboard! He really circled those bases in a hurry!"
Stewart would calm down, however, and the A's provided him a lead in their half of the second. With two outs, Glenn Hubbard singled. Belcher's control problems continued as he walked both Stewart and Carney Lansford to load the bases. With a two outs and a 1–0 count to Canseco, Canseco crushed the next pitch for a grand slam over the left-center field fence, denting an NBC game camera in the process. The A's had a 4–2 lead. Canseco's grand slam in Game 1 was his only hit of the series. His fellow Bash Brother Mark McGwire had only one hit as well, the game-winning shot that ended Game 3.
In the sixth, the Dodgers broke Stewart's groove with three singles, the latter one by Mike Scioscia that scored Mike Marshall. The A's lead was cut to 4–3.
While Kirk Gibson was taking practice swings in the Dodgers' clubhouse during Game 1, Orel Hershiser set up the hitting tee for his teammate. Along the way, NBC's Bob Costas could hear Gibson's agonized-sounding grunts after every hit.
A's closer, Dennis Eckersley, came on to pitch the ninth to close it out for Stewart. After retiring the first two batters, Eckersley issued a walk to pinch-hitter Mike Davis, bringing a hobbled Kirk Gibson to the plate to bat for reliever Alejandro Peña. Gibson bravely fouled off Eckersley's best offerings, demonstrating in the process just how badly he was hurting as his swings were hobbled by his injured legs. One swing in particular that dribbled up the first base line before rolling foul, forcing Gibson to hobble towards first, prompted Scully to observe, "And it had to be an effort to run THAT far." After fouling off several pitches, Gibson finally took a pitch for ball three as Davis stole second. Gibson then stepped out of the batters box for a moment and when he stepped back in, he hit a backdoor slider into the right field bleachers to win the game. The footage of Gibson hobbling around the bases on both hurt legs and pumping his fist as he rounds second will forever live on highlight reels. Gibson would never bat again in the Series. Kirk Gibson's walk-off homer in Game 1 marked the first time that a World Series game ended with a come-from-behind home run, and it is considered the greatest home run hit in Dodgers' history.
Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda tried to trick the Athletics into thinking that Kirk Gibson was not going to pinch-hit in Game 1. Preceding Gibson's at-bat, while Mike Davis was at the plate, Lasorda sent Dave Anderson, who hit .249 in the regular season, out into the on-deck circle. Dennis Eckersley, who had seen Davis hit for power in the American League, became too cautious, reasoning that he would rather risk walking Davis (assuming that Anderson next up would still prove to be an easy out), instead of trying to pitch to Davis, and perhaps make a mistake that Davis could hit for a game-tying home run. Eckersley did indeed walk Davis, thus setting the stage for Kirk Gibson to hit his game-winning home run.
By the time Kirk Gibson reached his locker after Game 1, bullpen coach Mark Cresse had written "R. HOBBS" on a piece of paper and taped it over Gibson's nameplate, which was in reference to Gibson's heroics mirroring those of the fictional slugger played by Robert Redford in The Natural.
Kirk Gibson would later say that prior to the Series, Dodgers scout Mel Didier had provided a report on Eckersley that claimed with a 3–2 count against a left-handed power hitter, one could be absolutely certain that Eckersley would throw a backdoor slider. Gibson said that when the count reached 3–2, he stepped out of the batter's box and, in his mind, could hear Didier's voice, with its distinctive Southern drawl, reiterating that same piece of advice. With that thought in mind, Gibson stepped back into the batter's box; and thus when Eckersley did in fact throw a backdoor slider, it was, thanks to Didier, exactly the pitch Gibson was looking for.
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“That the world is a divine game and beyond good and evil:Min this the Vedanta philosophy and Heraclitus are my predecessors.”
—Friedrich Nietzsche (18441900)