On Oct. 15, 1988, Kirk Gibson added to what had already been a memorable season for the Los Angeles Dodgers by hitting a walk-off home run against Oakland Athletics closer Dennis Eckersley in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series.
With Gibson helping infuse a new attitude, the Dodgers won 94 games during the regular season and were NL West champions. However, the postseason brought about a matchup with the New York Mets, who were the favorites to reach the World Series.
The Dodgers and Mets played to seven games in the NL Championship Series, and though L.A. advanced to the Fall Classic, it came at a cost as Gibson was left battling knee and hamstring injuries.
Thus, he was not in the lineup for Game 1 against an A’s team that led the Majors with 104 wins and had just swept the Boston Red Sox.
But with the Dodgers trailing in the ninth inning and down to their final outs, Gibson relayed a message to then-manager Tommy Lasorda that he was available to pinch-hit. So Gibson came hobbling out of the dugout for one of the more dramatic plate appearances in MLB history.
Gibson was in clear discomfort as he fouled pitches off and worked the count full. As he would later relay, Gibson recalled the message from famed scout Mel Didier about Eckersley’s preference to throw a back door slider on a full count.
So Gibson connected for a two-run, walk-off home run that sent Dodger Stadium into a frenzy. Because of the nagging injuries it was his lone appearance in the World Series.
The Dodgers used the 5-4 victory to propel them to a title in just five games. Included in that was a win with what some pegged one of the more futile lineups in postseason history. The World Series win was the sixth in the franchise’s history.
In honor of the 30-year anniversary, Gibson and Eckersley reunited at Dodger Stadium to throw out the ceremonial first pitch before Game 4 of the 2018 World Series.
Gibson’s home run additionally has been used to create commemorative seat in the right field pavilion at Dodger Stadium. Prior to the start of the 2018 season, the seat where Gibson’s ball landed in was painted blue and sold as part of a ticket package.
It comes with a special t-shirt to make note of sitting in the seats, and all proceeds are donated to support Kirk Gibson’s Foundation.
While the seat location is widely known, where the actual ball went remains one of the sport’s greatest mysteries as it’s never been recovered by Gibson or the Dodgers, nor has anyone stepped forward with proof of obtaining it.