MLB Network’s 10th Greatest Game, Childhood & Homerun Memories

I am so enjoying MLBN’s 20 Greatest Games series. I haven’t seen them all but, with my very Dodgers childhood, I definitely could not miss this evening’s episode: 1988 World Series Game One! I remember that evening vividly. It was a Saturday night, date night for my parents, so my sister and I were enjoying a small Domino’s pizza and had the beginnings of a truly epic Lego castle complete with maze winding its way across the den floor in front of the TV. I may have been too old for a lot of toys at that point but if you’re ever too old for Legos, well then, you’re just too old.

We were so disappointed, my sister and I, when they announced that Kirk Gibson wouldn’t be able to play. New to the Dodgers that year, He was already one of our favorites, right up there with Mike Scioscia, Orel Hershiser, Alfredo Griffin and Mickey Hatcher – is it any wonder why I say watching the Angels for me now is like watching the Dodgers of my youth, my Dodgers? Now, if my friends were any indication, pre-teen girls in Los Angeles were supposed to prefer Steve Sax in those days – Sexy Saxy as one young lady who may or may not have really understood her own nickname, called him. I didn’t dislike him at all, but I wasn’t seeing it.

As you can tell, this was quite the fun trip down memory lane for me. Hatcher’s improbable home run. My first real exposure to baseball’s unusually intimate relationship with the flying fickle finger of fate when the broadcast team felt the need to put “Joe Canseco has never hit a grand slam before” among his stats as he came up to bat with bases loaded. Ouch! The looooong tense wait for something, anything good to happen for the Dodgers. Scioscia scoring Mike Marshall in the 6th to bring the game within one run. Two and a half very tense innings, plus two outs and then hearing Vin Scully say “And look who’s coming up…” Oh that hopeful, long drawn out at bat. The pitch Gibson fouled off and watching him stagger towards first on two bad legs. And then, the hit. What a hit! Pandamonium. Legos flying everywhere, as we jumped up and down and cheered. I only know Vin Scully’s famous call of the hit from all of the replays afterwards. We were too loud to hear it when the homerun actually happened.

Dave Stewart, the A’s starting pitcher from game 1 was a very entertaining narrator. I had no idea that he hit Sax in the first inning because of some trash talk the day before. I no longer think I was being fanciful when I thought maybe Sax tipped his helmet a bit at Stewart before he took his base. It was great to hear about the famous hit from the man himself, interviewed via satellite from Spring Training in Arizona. The fact that Bob Costas, host of 20 Greatest Games, was present for Game 1 and played a few interesting roles in both that game and the Series gave this episode a nice touch. It was Costas who emphatically announced that there was no way Gibson could play at the beginning of the game. Later, standing in the hallway ready to walk out onto the field for postgame interviews, Costas overheard Gibson’s painful warm-up session in the batting cage in those last moments of the bottom of the 9th. Costas also reminded about how he accidentally inspired Tommy Lasorda’s “Kill Costas” rallying cry to the team with one of his pre-Series broadcasts about the A’s. I had completely forgotten about this detail, though it amused me to no end at the time.

Back in 1988, I remember getting goose bumps all up and down my arms when I watched Kirk Gibson hit that ball, knowing even then that I had just seen one of the great hits. Watching it all over again in a full game highlight reel format, I still get goose bumps.


  1. ronlang44

    I watched it with my son last night. I loved the pitch by pitch breakdown of Gibson’s at bat. I also remember exactly where I was that night too. I was at my grandparents house watching the game with them and I remember we were all amazed by Gibson’s homer. What a great game!


  2. thomasox

    Sorry to miss that one but thank you for YOUR narrative! Lasorda and I agree–well maybe not to that extreme, but Bob C drives me a bit crazy. I do love the where-were-you- when stories of these great moments in the game. Also, I love the course catalog! Good luck with yours and deadlines at universities are always whooshing by!

  3. blithescribe

    Ron – The pitch by pitch breakdown was really cool. What a game indeed! That sounds like a fun night with your son. Gosh, he looks like he’s just starting out. I wonder what great moments are going to be this fixed in his memory.
    Michael – Always pleased to be of service. Eh, I kind of like Costas – a little annoying, but he can laugh at himself and is very good on this show. Glad you liked the course catalog! Big sigh of relief. I just emailed my first drafts in on the real catalogs and handbooks about 90 minutes ago! Whooooooosh.
    This is a very simple game…

  4. blithescribe

    Mike – The 1984 home was still pretty darned dramatic, especially knowing that the Padres manager really wanted to walk Gibson but Gossage convinced him he could strike him out. Didn’t someone mail Gossage the piece Gibson’s hit broke out of the seat or is that an urban legend?
    This is a very simple game…

  5. crzblue2

    One of my favorites too along with the 1981 W.S. where the Dodgers beat the Yankees. It gives me goosebumps to listen to that 1988 game too.
    The last time I watched the replay of Gibby’s Homerun at Dodger Stadium, it brought tears to my eyes ’cause I was remembering watching the replay another time at the stadium and a friend (season ticket holder) infront of me turn around and told me “I was sitting in the pavilion with my dad, I get choked up when I see the highlights” Well, that friend passed away from a rare disease.

  6. blithescribe

    Emma – I figured this would be one of your favorite moments too! I was too young to remember the ’81 Series win, though. You must miss your friend a lot. It’s bittersweet but special that we get to relive so many wonderful memories of those who are gone while we interact with baseball.

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