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I watched Game 1 of the 1988 World Series for the first time

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It was better than I expected

Athletics v Dodgers Photo by Focus on Sport via Getty Images

I’ve been a Dodgers fan for as long as I can remember. I can’t recall my first Dodgers memory, but I know for a fact I was going to games as early as 2001.

I watch almost every game each year, and if I miss one, I’m watching highlights or reading a recap to see what happened. I know about every World Series championship team, and the greatest moments in franchise history.

Throughout my life, I’ve seen the Kirk Gibson walk-off home run well over 100 times. I’ve also heard about it a lot, as my dad was in attendance that night. Fun fact, the man that was sitting in the row behind him left the game early, because he had tickets to the LA Kings game! Can you imagine?

I have almost the entire Kirk Gibson at bat memorized, and know how remarkable it was when he hit the homer. However, what I had never done before, was watch what happened prior to that unforgettable ninth inning. I was born in 1996, so I didn’t have the chance to watch this game live, unfortunately.

So, I decided to watch the entire game from start to finish, and boy was it awesome. Before I share my thoughts on the game, check out the game thread from last night. Prior to watching the game, I invited Dodgers fans to join in on the fun. I set a time where we’d all watch the game on YouTube, and created a game thread for fans to interact and talk as if the game was happening live. If you missed out, you missed an entertaining night.

My thoughts

I’ll start at the very beginning with the opening intro. Man, the nostalgia. Seeing the old graphics, hearing the old music was awesome. It was awesome seeing Vin Scully on camera, introducing the game.

Something that I need to say, what a call by Scully and Joe Garagiola. That had to have been one of the best called games I’ve ever listened to. We know Scully is the greatest ever, but his chemistry with Garagiola was top-notch, and they were a really great team. Having them on the call definitely made the game that much better.

First Lady Nancy Reagan threw out the first pitch, which was really cool to see for a World Series game. It was weird seeing the first pitch on the side of the field, as opposed to having her walk to the mound. I think it might have been for the best.

The first inning was an interesting one. It looked like things were going to get ugly early on. The A’s had the bases loaded, but Tim Belcher was able to escape the jam. That game could have been put out of hand in the first inning, and who knows how the series would’ve panned out.

Steve Sax getting beamed to begin the bottom of the first and running to first base was classic. I loved seeing him take the hit, and bounce back up to run to first base. Baller move. I’m not exactly sure if that was Oakland trying to retaliate for hitting Jose Canseco in the top half of the inning, as I don’t understand putting a guy on base to begin the inning, but hey, it worked out in the Dodgers’ favor.

Mickey Hatcher, who I guess wasn’t much of a power hitter (checks google and sees he only hit one homer in 1988, wow) hit a two-run homer to give the Dodgers the lead early on. Now this was freaking awesome. Seeing him sprint around the bases, pumping his fists in the air was fun to see. If we were to see a player pull this off in today’s game, I can almost guarantee we’d see them get beamed in their next at-bat.

I think I’ve seen it a few times, but I’ve always heard about the Canseco grand slam that supposedly put a dent in the camera. Yeah he took steroids, but my goodness was that guy a tank.

For the most part, the next few innings were uneventful, but the game sure sped up. A notable takeaway was when Scully talked about Gibson in the third inning. Showing him in the dugout with his jacket on, Scully was talking about how unlikely it is we’ll see Gibson appear in the game. Knowing the outcome, it’s really cool to see the announcers talk about Gibson and how hurt he is and how he’s questionable to even appear in the series.

While watching this game, I noticed how willing the baserunners were to stealing bases, regardless of the situation. In the sixth inning, the Dodgers were down a run with runners on first and second, and they tried a double steal... twice! Can you even imagine seeing a team try and pull off a double steal in today’s game? Let alone the World Series! That was really cool to see, even though they weren’t successful with it.

The Jeff Hamilton double play to end the inning in the sixth seemed like the most typical 2017-2019 Dodgers thing, unable to take advantage with runners in scoring position. With only one out, the Dodgers could have gotten a rally going and put themselves ahead. Instead, they headed into the seventh still training.

Again with the aggressive base stealing, seeing Sax steal second with two outs in the bottom of the seventh was great. I’ve always been a fan of aggressive base stealing, and loved seeing Sax give the Dodgers a chance to tie the game with a base hit.

Man, oh man. Franklin Stubbs just got under it, as he flew out to right field. Off the bat I thought he got every bit of it, and Scully did as well on the call. It looked like it was going to go over the fence, but fell just shy. It reminded me a lot of the Cody Bellinger flyout in the 2017 World Series, the one that would have ended the game had it gone a few feet further. Painful, painful memories.

Before I get to the ninth, I need to just mention how good Dave Stewart was for Oakland. He went eight innings, allowed only three runs, and looked to be in control all night. Aside from the Hatcher home run, the Dodgers couldn’t really do much against him. His performance is probably overlooked, but I just had to mention how good he was.

Ah, yes, onto the ninth!

I’ve seen the bottom of the ninth before, but watching the entire game leading up to this gave it just a different feel. Although I knew the outcome, it just seemed like the Dodgers had zero chance, especially going up against Dennis Eckersley.

The first two batters got out, and Mike Davis came to the plate. Having read the game thread last night, it appeared everyone thought the game was over when he stepped up, and rightfully so. Davis hit only .196 in 1988, and he was who the Dodgers counted on. That’s like having Austin Barnes come up with the game on the line, and desperately needing him to get on base. But, miraculously, he walked!

Now, Gibson’s at-bat.

Again, I’ve watched this 10 minute video well over 100 times in my life, but this time was different. The build up of the game, not expecting him to see the plate, it was truly magical. I can’t even begin to imagine the goosebumps people would’ve felt while watching this live.

After hearing all game about how hurt he was, you could really see it. He had no business of being up at the plate. He was limping, looked weak and looked like he could barely stand up. He fouled off the first pitch, and he was visibly in pain. He fouled off another, and it looked like he didn’t have much oomf in him.

I can’t imagine how many hearts dropped when he hit that weak grounder to first. Had that ball been a few feet over, it goes fair and he’s tagged out to end the game. At first glance it looked like it would roll fair, but then proceeded to go foul. Phew! But man, even watching him walk back to home plate was rough. He was struggling just to walk back a few feet.

Major props to Gibson for keeping that at-bat alive. He fouled off some good pitches, and laid off some good ones too. He made Eckersley work, and it eventually paid off.

The home run, the call, him barely making it around the bases, iconic. One of the great finishes in baseball history, and I’m glad I finally got to watch the game in it’s entirety. It was definitely worth the wait.


I would love to hear your stories about that night. Where did you watch the game, who were you with? Comment below and share with everyone!