This Day In Dodgers History: Kirk Gibson Named 1988 NL MVP

On Nov. 15, 1988, Los Angeles Dodgers left fielder Kirk Gibson was named the National League MVP. The award capped off a celebratory season for Gibson and the Dodgers, who unexpectedly defeated the Oakland Athletics in five games to win the World Series.

Knee and hamstring injuries limited Gibson to just one game — one at-bat — in the 1988 World Series, though he certainly made it count.

With Mike Davis on first base with two outs in the bottom of the ninth and the Dodgers trailing, 4-3, Gibson emerged from the clubhouse to pinch-hit against vaunted Athletics closer Dennis Eckersley.

Gibson famously battled Eckersley to a full count before hitting a walk-off two-run home run that still holds as one of the most clutch hits in World Series history.

After spending his first nine seasons in the Majors with the Detroit Tigers, Gibson signed with the Dodgers prior to the 1988 season beginning. He also spent 1989 and 1990 in Los Angeles, though was limited to a combined 160 games.

Gibson hit .290/.377/.483 with 25 home runs, 28 doubles, 76 RBIs and 31 stolen bases over 150 games in 1988. Along with being named MVP that season, Gibson also took home a Silver Slugger Award — the first and only of his career.

Gibson’s MVP Award was the first won by a Dodger player since Steve Garvey in 1974. Clayton Kershaw then ended a second franchise drought in 2014 when he became the first NL pitcher to win MVP since Bob Gibson in 1968.

However, Kershaw and others haven’t yet managed to bring another World Series to Los Angeles since Gibson’s heroics in 1988.

After retiring in 1995, Gibson has worked as the Tigers’ bench coach, Arizona Diamondbacks manager (named NL Manager of the Year in 2011) and most recently, a television analyst for FOX Sports Detroit.

Gibson finished his 17-year career a .268/.352/.463 hitter, including batting .264/.353/.433 with 42 home runs, 46 doubles, 142 RBIs and 69 stolen bases with the Dodgers.

Kirk Gibson inducted into Legends of Dodger Baseball

This past May, Gibson was inducted into the “Legends of Dodger Baseball” group that also includes Steve Garvey, Don Newcombe, Fernando Valenzuela and Maury Wills.

Each of the players has been recognized for their impact on and off the field, and received a personalized plaque with one also being displayed on the top deck at Dodger Stadium. The Dodgers began the initiative in 2019 with Garvey, Newcombe and Valenzuela making up the inaugural class.

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