Last night, I saw one of the most thrilling and dramatic finishes to a postseason baseball game in recent memory. Even though my Los Angeles Dodgers were eliminated by the hated St. Louis Cardinals last week and I had to settle for watching them face the even more hated San Francisco Giants in the 2014 National League Championship Series, it was still good TV. The series ended with a Giants 4-1 series win after Travis Ishikawa smashed a walk-off home run to finish off the Cardinals. That whole scenario reminded me of Aaron “F’n” Boone in the 2003 American League Championship Series when the Yankees finished off the Red Sox. But more than that, it reminds me of a signature sports moment in my life. That brings me to this week’s moment in the Flashback Friday series: the Kirk Gibson walk-off home run.
How I first came across this moment? It all started on October 15, 1988. I was approaching my 4th birthday. My mother was watching Game 1 of the 1988 World Series between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Oakland Athletics. Me, being the rambunctious 3-year-old I was, played in the living room while she watched…occasionally waddling in front of the television. Kirk Gibson, that year’s National League Most Valuable Player and injured headed into the series, hit a home run into the right field pavilion at Dodger Stadium in the bottom of the 9th off of Dennis Eckersley to lead to the Dodgers to a 5-4 win, spearheading their run to the title a few days later.
What it meant to me then? As legend—or my mother, at least—would tell it, when Jack Buck made his famous call for NBC Sports, my mother let out a shout and I ran to the television and started rubbing on it. According to her, that’s when I became a fan of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
What it means to me now? Some 26 years later, I look favorably upon that moment in sports history. It’s actually my favorite moment in sports history…even more than Holy Buckeye at Ohio State. That series was the last time the Dodgers played in the Fall Classic and we’ve come up short in 3 of the past 7 NLCS tilts. Hopefully, one of these days, I’ll get to see my own Kirk Gibson moment with the Dodgers being on the winning end. It would be even more awesome if it’s a World Series winning moment at Dodger Stadium like the Joe Carter home run to win the 1993 World Series.