Tuesday, October 15, 2013
Sorry to crash the Kirk Gibson 25th anniversary love-in, but I wouldn't be true to myself as a baseball fan if I didn't address the longstanding illusion that Gibson authored one of the most dramatic moments in baseball history on October 15th, 1988.
Not that it was without drama. Gibson was nursing hamstring and knee injuries when he hit a pinch hit, two run homer off Dennis Eckersley to give the Dodgers a 5-4 win over Oakland in the 1988 World Series opener. That's Game 1 of an otherwise forgettable Fall "Classic" that the Dodgers would take in 5. Thanks to the game's willing media mythmakers, baseball lore practically preaches that Gibson won the Series with that one swing of the bat while playing with two broken legs, multiple gunshots wounds and advanced leprosy.
Never mind one of the sport's most dramatic moments - it wasn't even one of the 15 greatest home runs in baseball history. That list, in no particular order, includes:
Bill Mazeroski's World Series-winning walkoff HR . October 13, 1960.
Bobby Thomson's "shot heard 'round the world". October 3, 1951.
Carlton Fisk waves it fair. October 21st, 1975.
Bernie Carbo setting the stage for Fisk's heroics. October 21, 1975
Joe Carter "touch 'em all." October 23, 1993.
David Freese Game 6 walkoff . October 28, 2011
Dave Henderson 9th inning stunner. 1986 ALCS. October 12, 1986
Kirby Puckett Game 6 walkoff. October 26, 1991
Blue Monday. October 19, 1981
Bucky Fucking Dent. October 21, 1978.
Chris Chambliss walkoff wins ALCS. October 14, 1976.
Aaron Boone walkoff wins ALCS. October 16, 2003
Mickey Mantle puts the Yankees ahead in Game 7 WS. October 7, 1952
Henry Aaron career HR 715. April 8, 1974
Roger Maris 61 in '61. October 1, 1961
I respectfully submit that each and every one of the home runs listed above had a greater impact on events at the time or more historical significance than Gibson's Game 1 clout in 1988. What they didn't have was a "crippled" hero and a Hollywood backdrop.
I'm not here to denigrate Gibson or the highlight of his career. It was truly historic. But in the annals of the grand old game, greater achievements and more dramatic moments have been afforded far less attention.