The 1988 World Series matched the Oakland Athletics against the Los Angeles Dodgers, with the Dodgers upsetting the heavily favored A's to win the Series in five games (the exact opposite result of their 1974 meeting, which also went five games). The most memorable moment of the 1988 World Series occurred when injured Dodgers MVP Kirk Gibson, who could barely walk due to injuries suffered during the National League Championship Series, hit a pinch-hit, walk-off home run off of Athletics closer Dennis Eckersley in Game 1.
The Los Angeles Dodgers won the National League West division by 7 games over the Cincinnati Reds then defeated the New York Mets, four games to three, in the 1988 NLCS. The Oakland Athletics won the American League West division by 13 games over the Minnesota Twins then defeated the Boston Red Sox, four games to none, in the American League Championship Series. This was the first World Series to have the series logo on the players' uniforms.
Los Angeles DodgersEdit
The Dodgers' team batting did not finish in the top five in any offensive statistical category except batting average (fifth), at a pedestrian .248 – no regular or backup hit over .300 or drove in over 90 runs. Kirk Gibson’s 25 home runs led the team but was only good enough for seventh in the National League. Slugger Pedro Guerrero had a sub-par year and was traded in July to the Cardinals for pitcher John Tudor. No position player was good enough to make the All-Star Game.
However, the Dodgers were sixth in the NL in runs scored and backed that up with excellent pitching. Despite dealing All-Star pitcher Bob Welch to Oakland prior to spring training and an injury to Fernando Valenzuela (5–8, 4.24 ERA), the Dodgers were second in the NL in team ERA and runs allowed, and led the league in complete games and shutouts. The staff was anchored by Cy Young Award-winner Orel Hershiser, who led league in wins, won-loss percentage (23–8 .864), complete games (15), shutouts (8), and sacrifice hits (19).
Hershiser was backed-up by a pair of “Tims,” Tim Leary (17–11, 2.91) and rookie Tim Belcher (12–6, 2.91), and the July acquisition of John Tudor further strengthened the staff. The bullpen was outstanding, headed by Jay Howell (21 saves, 2.08), Alejandro Peña (12 saves, 1.91), and longtime New York Mets closer Jesse Orosco. The Dodger bullpen led the league in saves with 49.
It was intensity and fortitude, however, that defined the 1988 Dodgers, a trend that began when Kirk Gibson was signed as a free-agent over the winter from the Detroit Tigers, the team he helped lead to the 1984 World Championship. Moreover, the invincible Hershiser threw shutouts in his last six regular season starts en route to a record 59 consecutive scoreless innings pitched, breaking the mark held by former Dodger great Don Drysdale. Hershiser would dominate the Mets in the NLCS, while Gibson hobbled through on bad knees and a bruised hamstring but would produce a memorable, if not the greatest, at-bat (in Game 1) of the World Series.
The powerful Oakland Athletics had all the confidence and swagger of a heavily-favored team. The “Bash Brothers” duo of Mark McGwire (32 home runs, 99 RBI, .260 batting average) and José Canseco (42 home runs, 124 RBI, .307 batting average) were in their early twenties, emerging as young superstars. Canseco became the first player to hit 40 or more home runs and steal 40 or more bases in Major League history and would capture the Most Valuable Player award in the American League. Veterans Dave Henderson (24 home runs, 94 RBI, .304 batting average) and longtime Pirate Dave Parker (12 home runs, 55 RBI, .257 batting average), also contributed with both their bats and their experience. The 1988 World Series marked Don Baylor's third consecutive World Series with three separate teams. Besides being a member of the 1988 Athletics, Baylor was also a member of the 1986 Boston Red Sox and 1987 Minnesota Twins.
The Oakland pitching staff was quite possibly the best in the American League in 1988. They led in ERA (3.44), wins (104), saves (64), and were second in strikeouts (983) and second in least amount of runs allowed and home runs allowed. The ace of the staff was Dave Stewart, an ex-Dodger (1978–83), who won 20 games for the second straight season. Another ex-Dodger was reliable Bob Welch (17–9, 3.64) followed by 16-game winner Storm Davis. After spending the previous 12 years as a starter, mostly for the Boston Red Sox and Chicago Cubs, Dennis Eckersley would be converted into a closer in 1987 and would lead the American League in saves in 1988 with 45. He would eventually have a distinguished 24-year career, gaining election into the Hall of Fame in 2004. Another longtime starter (and another ex-Dodger), Rick Honeycutt, proved to be a capable set-up man to Eckersley, finishing with three wins and seven saves.
But anything can happen in a short series, as proven by these 1988 Los Angeles Dodgers, who out-hit (41–28, .246–.177), out-muscled (5 HRs,-2 HRs), and out-pitched (2.03-3.92) the seemingly unbeatable Oakland Athletics incredibly winning the Series in 5 games, outscoring the A’s, 21–11, bringing Tommy Lasorda and the Dodgers their sixth World Series Championship.
|1||Oakland Athletics - 4, Los Angeles Dodgers - 5||October 15||Dodger Stadium||55,983|
|2||Oakland Athletics - 0, Los Angeles Dodgers - 6||October 16||Dodger Stadium||56,051|
|3||Los Angeles Dodgers - 1, Oakland Athletics - 2||October 18||Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum||49,316|
|4||Los Angeles Dodgers - 4, Oakland Athletics - 3||October 19||Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum||49,317|
|5||Los Angeles Dodgers - 5, Oakland Athletics - 2||October 20||Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum||49,317|
HRs: 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. 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. (Canseco was the only player besides Yogi Berra in 1956 to hit a grand slam in a losing World Series game).
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. After Davis stole second, Gibson bravely fouled off Eckersley's best offerings, then 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 is considered the greatest home run hit in Los Angeles 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, Dodger scout Mel Didier had provided a report on Dennis 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 for which Gibson was looking.
HRs: LAD – Mike Marshall (1)
With a rested Orel Hershiser on the mound, the Dodgers took a 2–0 lead. Hershiser got all the runs he needed in the third, with Mike Marshall providing the big blow with a three-run homer. Hershiser went the distance, allowing only three singles, all three hit by Dave Parker.
Hershiser also contributed offensively, with three hits, including an RBI double in the fourth inning. In the five-run third inning, he singled, went to third on an opposite-field single by Steve Sax and later scored. He was the first pitcher to get three hits in a World Series game since 1924.
HRs: OAK – Mark McGwire (1)
The A's got back in the series on the strength of strong pitching by former Dodger World Series hero Bob Welch and three relievers. Dodger starter John Tudor left after only two innings with tightness in his pitching shoulder.
The A's struck first in the third when Glenn Hubbard singled, stole second, and came home on a single by Ron Hassey. The Dodgers tied it in the fifth when Franklin Stubbs drove home Jeff Hamilton with a double.
A's relievers helped squelch a Dodger threat in the sixth. Danny Heep led off with a double. John Shelby singled to left, but Heep was held up at third on the throw home as Shelby took second. Welch walked Mike Davis to load the bases, and left-hander Greg Cadaret was brought in to face lefty-hitting Mike Scioscia. Scioscia popped out to third. A's manager Tony LaRussa then brought in right-hander Gene Nelson to face Hamilton, who forced Heep out at home. Alfredo Griffin grounded out to end the threat.
Jay Howell, was suspended for two games (although it was originally, three) by then National League president Bart Giamatti, for using pine tar during the 1988 National League Championship Series against the New York Mets. Howell was, incidentally, also the losing pitcher in the prior year's All-Star Game in Oakland while as a member of the Oakland Athletics.
Game 4 didn't feature very many big hits or any home runs, but it was won by the Dodgers in typical scratch-and-claw fashion that defined their 1988 season.
The Dodgers got two in the first when Steve Sax walked, went to third on a Mickey Hatcher single, and scored on a passed ball by A's catcher Terry Steinbach. Hatcher scored the second run on a groundout by John Shelby. The A's got one back in their half when Luis Polonia led off with a single, went to second on a passed ball, and later scored on a José Canseco groundout.
The Dodgers went up 3–1 when Franklin Stubbs doubled and scored on A's shortstop Walt Weiss's throwing error on a ball hit by Mike Davis. The A's answered in the sixth on an RBI single by Carney Lansford.
With one out, Weiss singled and reached second when he was called safe on a double-play grounder hit by Polonia; he was running with the pitch. Dave Henderson cut the Dodger lead to 4–3 on a two-out RBI double. José Canseco walked and Dave Parker reached on a Griffin error to load the bases, but Mark McGwire popped out, ending the A's last chance to score.
HRs: LAD – Mickey Hatcher (2), Mike Davis (1)
Orel Hershiser capped one of the greatest seasons ever by a starting pitcher and one of the most improbable World Series wins in history by pitching a complete game, allowing only four hits, two runs, and striking out nine.
In addition to Hershiser's performance, the Dodgers won because Mickey Hatcher stepped in for the hobbled Kirk Gibson in left field and provided spark, enthusiasm, and unexpected offense. He blasted his second home run in the Series, a 2-run shot, in the first; he had hit only one home run in the 1988 season.
Mike Davis, a disappointing free-agent signing for most of the 1988 season, added a 2-run blast in the fourth, and former World Series MVP Rick Dempsey, filling in for an injured Mike Scioscia, added an RBI double in the sixth.
The Dodgers became the first (and so far only) team to have a perfect game pitched against them and win a World Series in the same season. Tom Browning of the Cincinnati Reds pitched the Perfect Game on September 16, 1988.
|Los Angeles Dodgers||6||0||6||3||1||2||1||0||2||21||41||3|
<tr><td style="text-align:left;" colspan="13">Total Attendance: 259,984 Average Attendance: 51,997</td></tr> <tr><td style="text-align:left;" colspan="13">Winning Player’s Share: – $108,665 Losing Player’s Share – $86,221</td></tr>
The 1988 World Series marked the last time that NBC would televise a World Series in seven years. Beginning in 1990, NBC would be shut out of Major League Baseball coverage completely, after CBS signed a four year, exclusive television contract. After splitting coverage of the 1995 World Series with ABC, NBC would next cover a World Series exclusively in 1997.
Longtime Dodger’s broadcaster Vin Scully called the 1988 World Series for a national television audience on NBC with Joe Garagiola. According to Scully (during an interview on ESPN Classic's SportsCentury profile on Dennis Eckersley), when he saw Kirk Gibson walk up to the plate, he seemed to be using his bat as a cane. When NBC returned from a commercial break at the start of the bottom of the 9th inning of Game 1, Scully commented (as NBC's cameras were panning the Dodgers' dugout) that Gibson (who wasn't in the dugout at the time) wouldn't play for sure. According to Gibson, Scully's comments in large part influenced his decision to want to bat.
Bob Costas, who along with Marv Albert, hosted NBC's World Series pregame coverage and handled postgame interviews made on-air statements that enraged many in the Dodgers' clubhouse (especially manager Tommy Lasorda). Costas' said that the 1988 Dodgers possibly had the weakest hitting line-up in World Series history. After the Dodgers won Game 4, Lasorda (during a postgame interview with Marv Albert) sarcastically said that the MVP of the World Series should be Bob Costas.
You talk about a roll of the dice...this is it.
Gibson swings, and a fly ball to deep right field! This is gonna be a home run! Unbelievable! A home run for Gibson! And the Dodgers have won the game, 5 to 4; I don't believe... what I just saw!
In a year that has been so improbable, the impossible has happened!
I've seen a lot of dramatic finishes, in a lot of sports, but this one, might top almost every other one.—Jack Buck moments after Gibson's walk-off homer.
Like the 1969 Mets, it's the impossible dream revisited!
Nobody thought we would win the division. Nobody thought we would beat the mighty Mets. Nobody thought we would beat the team who won 104 games (the Oakland Athletics), but we believed it!
- ↑ 1988 World Series Game 1 - Oakland Athletics vs. Los Angeles Dodgers. Retrosheet. Retrieved on 2008-06-10.
- ↑ 1988 World Series Game 2 - Oakland Athletics vs. Los Angeles Dodgers. Retrosheet. Retrieved on 2008-06-10.
- ↑ 1988 World Series Game 3 - Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Oakland Athletics. Retrosheet. Retrieved on 2008-06-10.
- ↑ 1988 World Series Game 4 - Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Oakland Athletics. Retrosheet. Retrieved on 2008-06-10.
- ↑ 1988 World Series Game 5 - Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Oakland Athletics. Retrosheet. Retrieved on 2008-06-10.
- ↑ NBC's World Series telecasts showed it's still the best at covering the national pastime
- Neft, David S., and Richard M. Cohen. The World Series. 1st ed. New York: St Martins, 1990. (Neft and Cohen 425-429)
- Forman, Sean L.. 1988 World Series. Baseball-Reference.com - Major League Statistics and Information.. Retrieved on 2007-12-09.
- 1988 World Series at Baseball-Reference.com
- 1988 World Series at WorldSeries.com (MLB.com)
- 1988 World Series by Baseball Almanac
- History of the World Series – 1988 at SportingNews.com
- Destiny's Boys at SI.com
- 1988 World Series box scores and play-by-play at Retrosheet.org
- 1988 NLCS |Game 4
- 1988 Los Angeles Dodgers at baseballlibrary.com
- 1988 Oakland Athletics at baseballlibrary.com
- Baseball's 25 Greatest Moments: Kirk Gibson's Home Run