1988 World Series
The 1988 World Series was the 85th edition of Major League Baseball's championship series, and the conclusion of the 1988 Major League Baseball season. It was a best-of-seven playoff played between the American League (AL) champion Oakland Athletics and the National League (NL) champion Los Angeles Dodgers, with the Dodgers upsetting the heavily favored Athletics to win the Series in five games. It is best known for the pinch-hit walk-off home run hit by Dodgers outfielder and 1988 NL MVP Kirk Gibson, who could barely walk due to injuries suffered during the NLCS, against Hall-of-Fame Athletics closer Dennis Eckersley in Game 1. The Dodgers were the only MLB team to win more than one World Series title in the 1980s; their other World Series title during the decade came in 1981 (they also broke a 10-year chain of 10 different World Series champions going back to 1978).
|1988 World Series|
|MVP||Orel Hershiser (Los Angeles)|
|Umpires||Doug Harvey (NL), Durwood Merrill (AL), Bruce Froemming (NL), Derryl Cousins (AL), Jerry Crawford (NL), Larry McCoy (AL)|
|Hall of Famers||Umpire: Doug Harvey|
Dodgers: Tommy Lasorda (manager)
Athletics: Tony La Russa (manager), Dennis Eckersley
|ALCS||Oakland Athletics over Boston Red Sox, 4–0|
|NLCS||Los Angeles Dodgers over New York Mets, 4–3|
|TV announcers||Vin Scully and Joe Garagiola|
|Radio announcers||Jack Buck and Bill White|
|World Series Program|
Although Gibson's home run has become an iconic World Series moment, it was series MVP Orel Hershiser who capped a dominant 1988 season in which he set the all time scoreless inning streak at 59 innings, recorded five straight shutouts, led the league with 23 wins and 267 innings, and won the Cy Young and Gold Glove awards. Hershiser was the MVP of the NLCS, starting three games, getting the save for Game 4, and shutting out the Mets in Game 7. In the World Series, he shut out the A's in Game 2, and pitched a two-run, complete game in the decisive Game 5 victory.
The Los Angeles Dodgers won the National League West division by seven games over the Cincinnati Reds then upset the New York Mets, four games to three, in the 1988 NLCS. The Oakland Athletics won the American League West division by thirteen games over the Minnesota Twins then swept the Boston Red Sox, four games to none, in the American League Championship Series.
Los Angeles DodgersEdit
The Dodgers' team batting did not finish in the top five in any offensive statistical category except batting average (fifth), at .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 starting pitcher John Tudor. Kirk Gibson was the only position player named to the All-Star Game, but declined the invitation.
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 five of 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 fewest 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 twelve 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 five games, outscoring the A's, 21–11, bringing the Dodgers their sixth World Series Championship, the second as a manager for Tommy Lasorda.
|1||October 15||Oakland Athletics – 4, Los Angeles Dodgers – 5||Dodger Stadium||3:04||55,983|
|2||October 16||Oakland Athletics – 0, Los Angeles Dodgers – 6||Dodger Stadium||2:30||56,051|
|3||October 18||Los Angeles Dodgers – 1, Oakland Athletics – 2||Oakland–Alameda County Coliseum||3:21||49,316|
|4||October 19||Los Angeles Dodgers – 4, Oakland Athletics – 3||Oakland–Alameda County Coliseum||3:05||49,317|
|5||October 20||Los Angeles Dodgers – 5, Oakland Athletics – 2||Oakland–Alameda County Coliseum||2:51||49,317|
|WP: Alejandro Peña (1–0) LP: Dennis Eckersley (0–1)|
OAK: José Canseco (1)
LAD: Mickey Hatcher (1), Kirk Gibson (1)
Because ace Orel Hershiser pitched in Game 7 of the NLCS, the Dodgers had to start 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. Canseco was hit in the right bicep as he checked his swing and home plate umpire Doug Harvey awarded him first base. Dodger manager Tommy Lasorda disputed this, thinking the ball hit Canseco's bat. Audio from the game seemed to confirm this, but replays showed the ball hit Canseco in the bicep.
Stewart's problems began in the bottom of the first when he purposely 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. 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!" and "He's a Saturday Evening Post cover!"
Stewart would calm down, however, and the A's provided him a lead in their half of the second. After allowing a leadoff single to Glenn Hubbard and striking out Walt Weiss, Belcher's control problems continued as he walked both Stewart and Carney Lansford to load the bases. After Dave Henderson struck out, Canseco crushed a 1–0 pitch for a grand slam to almost dead center, 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.
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 (Mike Scioscia and Jeff Hamilton), Eckersley's former A's teammate Mike Davis, batting for Alfredo Griffin, walked on five pitches. During Davis' at-bat, Dave Anderson initially entered the on-deck circle to hit for Alejandro Peña. Eckersley pitched carefully to Davis because the A's remembered all of the home runs he hit for the A's a year earlier, not because the light-hitting Anderson was on deck, as popularly believed. After Davis walked, Lasorda called back Anderson and sent up a hobbled Kirk Gibson to the plate, amidst cheers from the Dodger Stadium crowd. Gibson bravely fouled off Eckersley's best offerings, demonstrating how badly he was hurting. On one foul, Gibson hobbled towards first and prompted Scully to quip, "And it had to be an effort to run THAT far." After Gibson fouled off several pitches, Davis stole second on ball three. On the next pitch, the 8th of the at-bat, Gibson, with an awkward, almost casual swing, using pure upper-body strength, and remembering a scouting report that said Eckersley liked to throw a backdoor slider to left handed hitters on 3–2 counts, slammed that 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 rounded second became an iconic baseball film highlight.
Gibson would never bat again in the Series, and his walk-off homer in Game 1 marked the first time that a World Series game ended with a come-from-behind 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.
Game 1 is the only game in World Series history such that a grand slam-hitting team both failed to win the game, and also later failed to win the series. The only other game in series history in which a grand slam-hitting team failed to win the game was 1956's game 2 (the Yankees); nevertheless, the Yankees prevailed in the series.
|WP: Orel Hershiser (1–0) LP: Storm Davis (0–1)|
LAD: Mike Marshall (1)
With a rested Orel Hershiser on the mound, the Dodgers took a 2–0 Series lead. Hershiser went the distance, allowing only three singles, all three hit by Dave Parker. The Dodgers got to Oakland starter Storm Davis with a five-run third. After one-out singles by Hershiser and Steve Sax, consecutive RBI singles by Franklin Stubbs and Mickey Hatcher made it 2–0 Dodgers before Mike Marshall capped the scoring with a three-run home run. Hershiser himself got an RBI when Alfredo Griffin singled in the fourth and scored on his double. Hershiser was the first pitcher to get three hits in a World Series game since Art Nehf of the New York Giants in Game 1 of the 1924 World Series. He was also the first pitcher to record a World Series RBI since Philadelphia's John Denny in Game 4 of the 1983 World Series.
|WP: Rick Honeycutt (1–0) LP: Jay Howell (0–1)|
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 during the second inning 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 La Russa then brought in right-hander Gene Nelson to face Hamilton, who forced Heep out at home. Alfredo Griffin grounded out to end the threat.
|WP: Tim Belcher (1–0) LP: Dave Stewart (0–1) Sv: Jay Howell (1)|
Without injured sluggers Kirk Gibson (25 HR) and Mike Marshall (20), the Dodgers started the game with what was statistically one of the weakest hitting World Series teams since the Dead-ball era. During the regular season the Game 4 starting line up of Steve Sax (2B), Franklin Stubbs (1B), Mickey Hatcher (LF), Mike Davis (RF), John Shelby (CF), Danny Heep (DH), Jeff Hamilton (3B), Mike Scoscia (C) and Alfredo Griffin (SS) combined for a total of just 36 home runs. Between them, José Canseco and Mark McGwire had hit 74 home runs for Oakland. Canseco alone had in fact hit more home runs (42) than the Dodger lineup while McGwire with 32 almost matched the Dodgers.
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.
A key play came when the Dodgers got their final run in the seventh. With Alfredo Griffin on third and Steve Sax on first with one out, pinch-hitter Tracy Woodson hit what looked to be an inning ending double play grounder. But Lasorda called for a hit and run play so Sax was going on the pitch. Oakland tried for the double play, but Sax barely beat the throw to second. So when the throw to first beat Woodson, it was only the second out, allowing Griffin to score.
The A's half of the seventh also dramatic. 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 Game 3 hero Mark McGwire popped out, stranding three and ending the inning.
While hosting Game 4 on NBC, Bob Costas angered many members of the Dodgers (especially Manager Tommy Lasorda) by commenting before the start of the game that the Dodgers quite possibly were about to put up the weakest-hitting lineup in World Series history. That comment ironically fired up the competitive spirit of the Dodgers. Later (while being interviewed by NBC's Marv Albert), after the Dodgers had won Game 4, Lasorda sarcastically suggested that the MVP of the 1988 World Series should be Bob Costas.
|WP: Orel Hershiser (2–0) LP: Storm Davis (0–2)|
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 two-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 two-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.
With the Lakers winning their fifth NBA championship in nine years four months before, the Dodgers winning the World Series made Los Angeles the first city to have both NBA and World Series champions in the same year.
Composite line scoreEdit
|Los Angeles Dodgers||6||0||6||3||1||2||1||0||2||21||41||3|
|Total attendance: 259,984 Average attendance: 51,997|
Winning player's share: $108,665 Losing player's share: $86,221
Television and radio coverageEdit
The 1988 World Series marked the last time that NBC would televise a World Series for 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 Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully called the Series for NBC along with Joe Garagiola; this was the last World Series that Scully would call on television (although he would subsequently call several more on CBS Radio) and the final Series broadcast on either medium for 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 ninth 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.
It was White's last World Series as a broadcaster, as he replaced Bart Giamatti as President of the National League shortly after the World Series. He had been part of the broadcast team for a total of six World Series, four of which involved his primary employers, the New York Yankees.
The Dodgers would not make another World Series appearance until 2017, where they would lose in seven games against the Houston Astros, who won their very first World Series title. The Dodgers would make another World Series appearance the following year in 2018, but lost to the Boston Red Sox in five games, marking the first time the Dodgers lost back-to-back World Series since 1977 and 1978, where they lost both World Series to the New York Yankees.
The A's made it to the World Series the next two years, winning the 1989 "Loma Prieta earthquake" series 4-0 vs. the San Francisco Giants and being swept by the Cincinnati Reds 4-0 in 1990. The A's haven't appeared in the World Series since.
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 five to four; I don't believe...what I just saw! I don't believe what I just saw!
High fly ball into right field, she i-i-i-i-is gone! (long pause where only crowd noise can be heard) In a year that has been so improbable, the impossible has happened!
Here's the 3-2 pitch, and a drive hit to right field, WAY BACK! THIS BALL IS GONE!
— Tommy Lasorda in the Dodgers clubhouse to his team after Game 5.
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- Destiny's Boys at SI.com
- 1988 NLCS | Game 4
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- 1988 Oakland Athletics at baseballlibrary.com
- Baseball's 25 Greatest Moments: Kirk Gibson's Home Run