Arizona Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson fondly recalls his famous walk-off home run against Oakland Athletics closer Dennis Eckersley almost 25 years ago.
Steve Gilbert of MLB.com writes Gibson met with the media at Dodger Stadium on Tuesday to talk about that moment that allowed the Dodgers to seize momentum and win the 1988 World Series 4-1.
“For me, what I do now as a manager of the Diamondbacks, my motivation is to get back to that moment for somebody and to have them prepared for that moment and to be able to find their place in baseball history.”
He was then asked if he would still consider himself to still be a Dodger in spite of the fact he is managing a team L.A. has had some bad blood with in 2013.
“Sure, have to be. I mean, I don’t think I’m very well liked right now by the team, but I understand that. We respect each other. It’s competitive respect. They’re fighting to beat us, we’re fighting to beat them and that’s the way it should be. You should have aggression towards each other, but yet in a competitive and respectful way.”
Gibson was hobbling on just one leg due to an injury in that game. Rick Weinberg of ESPN described the pain as “unbearable, even for an athlete with a pain threshold as high as Gibson’s.”
Following a two-out walk to Mike Davis, Gibson, injured leg and all, steps out of the dugout to face Eckersley. who told ESPN’s Ted Bauer the Athletics didn’t prepare that much for Gibson.
“Looking back, we didn’t spend a lot of time on Kirk in the pre-game meetings. I mean, no one expected him to play in that game. The one thing I remember is one of the coaches says to me,’Listen, if he does get up, do not throw him anything soft. He’ll hit it.'”
When the count reached 3-2, Gibson thought about what Dodgers scout Mel Didier mentioned in the scouting report,”look for the backdoor slider.”
Sure enough, Athletics catcher Ron Hassey gives Eckersley the sign for the backdoor slider.
Gibson swings and knocks this out of the park. From a 4-3 deficit in the bottom of the ninth, the Dodgers win it, 5-4. Dodger stadium erupts.
Eckersley later admitted the pitch he threw wasn’t very smart. He said,”It was a dumb pitch. It was the one pitch he could pull for power. And he hit the dog meat out of it.”
The Gibson home run will commemorate its 25th anniversary on October 15.