Tuesday marked the 25th anniversary of Kirk Gibson’s iconic home run in Game 1 of the World Series, which lifted the Dodgers to a 5-4 victory over the A’s. We can argue over whether it is the most famous postseason homer — Twins fans sometimes defend Kirby Puckett’s Game 6 heroics in this conversation — but for my money this was the defining playoff home run of at least the past 50 years.
That said, I was a couple weeks shy of my 12th birthday when it happened. And while I saw the whole thing on TV, there are a few facts that time has distorted. As such, it was fascinating to go back and read the retrospectives. Here are five things that had been forgotten and/or never known about that fateful ninth inning.
• According an oral history of the event posted on ESPN.com, Gibson was in the trainer’s room in the eighth inning with bags of ice on both legs. He was listening to Vin Scully’s call of the game. “When Vin Scully said Gibby wasn’t going to play, he got so mad,” Orel Hershiser said. “He got up, got the ice off and got his uniform on and went to go hit.”
• Mike Davis drew a two-out walk, which most people remember. What I did not remember is that Davis stole second base during Gibson’s at-bat. Since the score was 4-3 Oakland at the time, that meant all Gibson really needed to do was hit a soft single to tie the score. That’s exactly what Gibson was thinking, according to ESPN.com: “When Mike Davis finally got to second base, I thought just dink it over the shortstop, just score him and tie it up,” Gibson said. “That’s really all I was thinking at the time.”
• The count was 3-2 when Gibson homered. All these years, for some reason, it has been a 1-2 count in my mind.
• Dodgers scout Mel Didier, per ESPN.com’s account, had advised the team’s lefthanded hitters that when Eckersley got to a full count, he relied on a backdoor slider to rescue him. That thought was going through Gibson’s mind as he got set to hit.
• Orel Hershiser, who pitched two complete game victories in the Dodgers’ five-game World Series victory, was named the series MVP — not Gibson, who never batted again in the series (and didn’t need to).