The Los Angeles Dodgers are facing the Houston Astros in the 2017 World Series, which begins Tuesday with Game 1 at Dodger Stadium. It’s the club’s first trip to the Fall Classic in 29 years, and the Astros’ second appearance.
Boasting a 7-1 record this postseason, the Dodgers’ journey to the World Series was filled with a plethora of memorable moments along the way. Perhaps none more notable than Justin Turner’s walk-off home run in Game 2 of the National League Championship Series against the Chicago Cubs.
Turner’s dramatic blast fell on the 29-year anniversary of Kirk Gibson’s game-winning home run against the Oakland Athletics in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series. What’s more, both hits are the only walk-off home runs in Dodgers postseason history.
Following Turner’s homer, Gibson sent him a congratulatory text message, per Ken Gurnick of MLB.com:
“Congrats young man. Keep embracing the big moment. You earned it. — Kirk Gibson”
Turner texted back: “I can’t imagine doing it in the World Series.”
Replied Gibson: “You may get a chance. You’ve worked so hard. Now, go get it.”
And from Turner: “Thank you so much for reaching out.”
Following the Dodgers’ Game 2 victory over the Cubs, Turner recounted watching Gibson’s homer while at his grandmother’s house. Turner described it as one of his earliest baseball memories.
Gibson’s unprecedented home run in Game 1 — his only plate appearance of that World Series — helped spark the Dodgers the rest of the way. From that point on, the club would win three of the next four games against the Athletics and captured their sixth championship in franchise history.
For Turner, his respective walk-off home run gave the Dodgers a 2-0 lead over the Cubs, which was especially key with the series shifting to Wrigley Field. Los Angeles would soon go on to dethrone the defending World Series champions in five games, outscoring them 28-8 in the process.
Thus far in the playoffs, Turner is 12-for-31 (.387) with three home runs and 12 RBI. Among players with a minimum of 90 plate appearances, he ranks third in postseason history with a 1.113 on-base plus slugging percentage, behind Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig (1.214 OPS). Turner’s performance in the NLCS earned him co-MVP honors with teammate Chris Taylor.