1988 World Series
From BR Bullpen
The 1988 World Series matched the Oakland Athletics against the Los Angeles Dodgers, with the Dodgers upsetting the heavily favored A's to win the Series in five games, which was exactly the opposite result of their 1974 meeting (that series also went five games). The most memorable moment of the 1988 World Series was when injured Dodgers MVP Kirk Gibson, who could barely walk due to injuries, hit a pinch-hit, game-winning home run off Athletics closer and future Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley in Game 1.
 The Los Angeles Dodgers
The Dodgers' team batting did not finish in the top five in any offensive statistical category except batting average (5th), at a pedestrian .248 – no regular or backup hit over .300 or drove in over 90 runs. Kirk Gibson's 25 home runs led the team but were only good enough for 7th in the National League. Slugger Pedro Guerrero had a sub-par year and was traded in July to the St. Louis Cardinals in return for pitcher John Tudor. No position player was good enough to play in the All-Star Game - not even Gibson.
However, the Dodgers were 6th 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 in spite of an injury to Fernando Valenzuela (5-8, 4.24), the Dodgers were 2nd 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, winning 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); the July acqusition of John Tudor also strengthened the staff. The bullpen was outstanding, headed by Jay Howell (21 saves, 2.08) and Alejandro Pena (12 saves, 1.91), and longtime New York Mets closer Jesse Orosco. The Dodger bullpen led the league in saves with 49.
But intensity and fortitude would define this team when Gibson was signed as a free agent over the winter from the Detroit Tigers' team he helped lead to the 1984 World Championship. And there was the invincible Orel Hershiser who threw shutouts in 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 New York 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 Oakland Athletics
The powerful Oakland Athletics had all the confidence and swagger of a heavily-favored team. The "Bash Brothers", sluggers Mark McGwire (32, 99, .260) and Jose Canseco (42, 124, .307), were in their early twenties, emerging as young superstars. Canseco would become 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, 94, .304) and Dave Parker (12, 55, .257), contributed with both their bats and their experience.
The 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 and home runs allowed. The ace of the staff was Dave Stewart, an ex-Dodger (1978-1983), who won 20 games for the second straight season. Another ex-Dodger was reliable Bob Welch (17-9, 3.64) followed by a 16-game winner, Storm Davis. After spending the previous 12 years as a starter, mostly for the Boston Red Sox and Chicago Cubs, Dennis Eckersley had been converted into a closer in 1987 and led the American League in saves with 45. He would eventually have a distinguished 24-year career, gaining election into the Hall of Fame in 2004. Another longtime starter, also an ex-Dodger, Rick Honeycutt, helped out in long relief finishing with 3 wins and 7 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 homers to 2), and out-pitched (2.03-3.92) the seemingly unbeatable Oakland Athletics, incredibly winning the Series in 5 games, outscoring the A's, 21-11, bringing Tommy Lasorda and the Dodgers their sixth World Series Championship. Surprisingly, they have not been back in the World Series since that win, after having been an almost permanent fixture there starting in the early 1940s.
- Doug Harvey (NL), Durwood Merrill (AL), Bruce Froemming (NL), Derryl Cousins (AL), Jerry Crawford (NL), Larry McCoy (AL)
|Game||Score||Date||Location||Attendance||Time of Game|
|1||A's – 4, Dodgers – 5||October 15||Dodger Stadium (Los Angeles)||55,983||3:04|
|2||A's – 0, Dodgers – 6||October 16||Dodger Stadium (Los Angeles)||56,051||2:30|
|3||Dodgers – 1, A's – 2||October 18||Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum (Oakland)||49,316||3:21|
|4||Dodgers – 4, A's – 3||October 19||Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum (Oakland)||49,317||3:05|
|5||Dodgers – 5, A's – 2||October 20||Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum (Oakland)||49,317||2:51|
 Game 1
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E - - - - - - - - - - - - Oakland Athletics 0 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 4 7 0 Los Angeles Dodgers 2 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 2 5 7 0 PITCHERS: OAK - Stewart, Eckersley (9) LAD - Belcher, Leary (3), holton (6), Pena (8) WP - Pena LP - Eckersley SAVE - none HOME RUNS: OAK - Canseco LAD - Hatcher, Gibson ATTENDANCE: 55,983
Because they had used their pitching ace, Orel Hershiser, in Game 7 of the NLCS, the Dodgers had to open with 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 1st by giving up a single to Dave Henderson, then hitting Jose Canseco and walking Mark McGwire. Terry Steinbach flied out, however, to end the threat.
Stewart's problems began in the bottom of the 1st when he hit Steve Sax with the game's 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, prompting Vin Scully to comment, "He's a Saturday Evening Post character!"
Stewart would calm down, however, and the A's provided him a lead in their half of the second. With two outs, Glenn Hubbard singled. Belcher's control problems continued as he walked both Stewart and Carney Lansford to load the bases. With two outs and a 3-2 count, Canseco crushed the next pitch for a grand slam over the left field fence, denting an NBC game camera in the process. The A's had a 4-2 lead.
A's closer Dennis Eckersley came on to pitch the 9th to close it out for Stewart. After retiring the first two batters, Eckersley issued a walk to pinch-hitter Mike Davis, bringing a hobbled Kirk Gibson to the plate to bat for reliever Alejandro Pena. After Davis stole second, Gibson bravely fouled off Eckersley's best offerings, then hit a backdoor slider into the right field bleachers. The footage of Gibson hobbling around the bases on both hurt legs and pumping his fist as he rounds second will forever live on highlight reels. Gibson would never bat again in the Series, but his dramatic hit had given his team an emotional lift that would carry them to the title.
 Game 2
October 16, 1988 at Dodger Stadium (Los Angeles Dodgers) 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E - - - - - - - - - - - - Oakland Athletics 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 0 Los Angeles Dodgers 0 0 5 1 0 0 0 0 X 6 10 1 PITCHERS: OAK - S. Davis, Nelson (4), Young (6), Plunk (7), Honeycutt (8) LAD - Hershiser WP - Hershiser LP - S. Davis SAVE - none HOME RUNS: OAK - none LAD - Marshall ATTENDANCE: 56,051
With a rested Orel Hershiser on the mound, the Dodgers took a 2-0 lead. Hershiser, who had finished the regular season by pitching a record 59 consecutive scoreless innings, got all the runs he needed in the 3rd, with Mike Marshall providing the big blow with a three-run homer. Hershiser went the distance, allowing only three singles, all three hit by Dave Parker. He matched that total all by himself, going 3 for 3 with a run scored and an RBI in a dominating all-around performance
 Game 3
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E - - - - - - - - - - - - Los Angeles Dodgers 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 1 8 1 Oakland Athletics 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 2 5 0 PITCHERS: LAD - Tudor, Leary (2), Pena (6), J. Howell (9) OAK - Welch, Cadaret (6), Nelson (6), Honeycutt (8) WP - Honeycutt LP - J. Howell SAVE - none HOME RUNS: LAD - none OAK - McGwire ATTENDANCE: 49,316
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 after only two innings with tightness in his pitching shoulder.
The A's struck first in the 3rd when Glenn Hubbard singled, stole second, and came home on a single by Ron Hassey. The Dodgers tied it in the 5th when Franklin Stubbs drove home Jeff Hamilton with a double.
A's relievers helped squelch a Dodger threat in the 6th. 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 LaRussa then brought in right-hander Gene Nelson to face Hamilton, who forced Heep out at home. Alfredo Griffin grounded out to end the threat.
The A's got their winning run in the bottom of the 9th when Mark McGwire deposited a one-out fastball from Jay Howell into the right-centerfield seats. It was the second game of the series to end on a walk-off home run.
 Game 4
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E - - - - - - - - - - - - Los Angeles Dodgers 2 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 4 8 1 Oakland Athletics 1 0 0 0 0 1 1 0 0 3 9 2 PITCHERS: LAD - Belcher, J. Howell (7) OAK - Stewart, Cadaret (7), Eckersley (9) WP - Belcher LP - Stewart SAVE - J. Howell HOME RUNS: LAD - none OAK - none ATTENDANCE: 49,317
Game 4 didn't feature very many big hits or any home runs, but it was won by the Dodgers in typical scratch-and-claw fashion that defined their 1988 season.
The Dodgers got two runs in the 1st 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 Jose 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 6th on an RBI single by Carney Lansford.
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. Jose Canseco walked and Dave Parker reached on a Griffin error to load the bases, but Mark McGwire popped out, ending the A's last chance to score.
 Game 5
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E - - - - - - - - - - - - Los Angeles Dodgers 2 0 0 2 0 1 0 0 0 5 8 0 Oakland Athletics 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 2 4 0 PITCHERS: LAD - Hershiser OAK - S. Davis, Cadaret (5), Nelson (5), Honeycutt (8), Plunk (9), Burns (9) WP - Hershiser LP - S. Davis SAVE - none HOME RUNS: LAD - Hatcher, M. Davis OAK - none ATTENDANCE: 49,317
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 1st; he had hit only one home run in the regular season.
Mike Davis, a disappointing free agent signing who hat hit below the Mendoza Line in the regular season, added a two-run blast in the 4th, and former World Series MVP Rick Dempsey, filling in for an injured Mike Scioscia, added an RBI double in the 6th.
 Composite Box
|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 *Includes Playoffs and World Series|
- This was the last World Series that Peter Ueberroth presided over as commissioner. Coincidentally, Ueberroth rose to prominence for organizing the 1984 Summer Olympic Games in Los Angeles.
- Jay Howell, who was the losing pitcher in Game 3, was suspended for two games (although it was originally, three) by then National League president Bart Giamatti, for using pine tar during the 1988 National League Championship Series against the New York Mets. Howell was, incidentally, also the losing pitcher in the previous year's All-Star Game in Oakland while a member of the Oakland Athletics.
- Mickey Hatcher had only one home run during the entire regular season, yet he set the tone for the 1988 World Series in Game 1 with a two-run blast to left-center. He hit another in the Game 5 clincher.
- Kirk Gibson's homer in Game 1, marked the first time that a World Series game ended with a come-from-behind home run.
- 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. Speaking of Costas, many in the Dodgers' clubhouse (especially manager Tommy Lasorda) were enraged by Costas' on-air statements about the 1988 Dodgers possibly having the weakest hitting line-up in World Series history. After the Dodgers won Game 4, Lasorda (during an NBC interview with Marv Albert) sarcastically said that the MVP of the World Series should be Bob Costas.
- Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda tried to trick the Athletics into thinking that Kirk Gibson was not going to pinch-hit in Game 1. Preceding Gibson's at-bat, while Mike Davis was at the plate, Lasorda sent Dave Anderson, who hit .249 in the regular season, out into the on-deck circle. Oakland pitcher Dennis Eckersley, who had seen Davis hit for power in the American League, became too cautious, reasoning that he would rather risk walking Davis, assuming that Anderson, next up, would still prove to be an easy out, instead of trying to pitch to Davis, and perhaps make a mistake that Davis could hit for a game-tying home run. Eckersley did indeed walk Davis, thus setting the stage for Kirk Gibson to hit his game-winning home run.
- Kirk Gibson would later say that prior to the Series, Dodger scout Mel Didier had provided a report on Dennis Eckersley that claimed with a 3-2 count against a left-handed power hitter, one could be absolutely certain that Eckersley would throw a backdoor slider. Gibson said that when the count reached 3-2, he stepped out of the batter's box and, in his mind, could hear Didier's voice, with its distinctive Southern drawl, reiterating that same piece of advice. With that thought in mind, Gibson stepped back into the batter's box; and thus when Eckersley did in fact throw a backdoor slider, it was, thanks to Didier, exactly the pitch for which Gibson was looking.
- 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 Roy Hobbs played by Robert Redford in The Natural.
- Longtime Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully called the 1988 World Series for a national television audience on NBC. 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, it looked as if he was using his bat as a cane. When NBC returned from a commercial break at the start of the bottom of the 9th 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.
- 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 a member of the 1986 Boston Red Sox and 1987 Minnesota Twins respectively.
- José 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 homer that ended Game 3.
- The 1988 World Series marked the last time that NBC would televise a World Series in 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.
- 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.
- Following this confrontation, both teams appeared on Family Feud with Ray Comb for a special sweeps week billed as a World Series Rematch.
 Quote(s) of the Series
So the Dodgers brought in Debbie Gibson, now if only they had Kirk Gibson! - NBC pre-game show host Bob Costas commenting on National Anthem singer, Debbie Gibson (no relation to Kirk) just prior to Game 1, of course not knowing what would happen later on in the evening.
You talk about a roll of the dice... this is it. - NBC's Vin Scully, announcing Tommy Lasorda's decision to use the injured Kirk Gibson as a pinch hitter in Game 1. As it turned out, the dice came up boxcars for Lasorda.
High fly ball hit into right field... she is... GONE! - Vin Scully, announcing Kirk Gibson's home run in Game 1 on NBC.
In a year that has been so improbable, the impossible has happened! - Vin Scully on NBC, immediately after Kirk Gibson's home run in Game 1, while Kirk came home to score.
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, 5 to 4; I don't believe... what I just saw! - Jack Buck on CBS Radio.
Swung on and hit to deep right field! WAY BACK!!! THIS BALL IS GONE!!! - Don Drysdale announcing Gibson's homer on the Dodgers Radio Network.
I've seen a lot of dramatic finishes, in a lot of sports, but this one, might top almost every other one. - Jack Buck moments after Gibson's walk-off homer.
High drive... up the alley in left-center field and this one is going to be GONE! Home run McGwire! So the kid from Southern California breathes life into Northern California! - Vin Scully commentating on Mark McGwire's game-winning home run in Game 3.
Got him! They've done it! And like the 1969 Mets, it's the impossible dream revisited! - NBC's Vin Scully calling the final out in Game 5.
Nobody thought we would win the division. Nobody thought we would beat the mighty Mets. Nobody thought we would beat the team who won 104 games, but we believed it! - Tommy Lasorda.
 Further Reading
- William F. McNeil: Miracle in Chavez Ravine: The Los Angeles Dodgers in 1988, McFarland, Jefferson, NC, 2008.
- David S. Neft and Richard M. Cohen: The World Series, St. Martins Press, New York, NY, 1990 pp. 425-429.
- 1988 World Series at Baseball-Reference.com
- 1988 World Series at WorldSeries.com (MLB.com)
- 1988 World Series by Baseball Almanac
- History of the World Series – 1988 at SportingNews.com
- Destiny's Boys at SI.com
- 1988 World Series box scores and play-by-play at Retrosheet.org
- 1988 NLCS |Game 4
- 1988 Los Angeles Dodgers at baseballlibrary.com
- 1988 Oakland Athletics at baseballlibrary.com
- Revisit the Dodgers' Glory Years! - 1988
- Baseball's 25 Greatest Moments: Kirk Gibson's Home Run
|Modern Major League Baseball World Series
Pre-1903 Postseason Series