A Witness to the Miracle of Kirk Gibson’s Homerun

by on March 11, 2010

Baseball Fan Jim Babwe’s email submission to Baseballisms.com reprinted with permission. Long time fans of this site will remember that this was the first Legendary Game that we highlighted when we launched in 2008.

Saturday, October 15, 1988: World Series, Game 1

At approximately 1:00 PM, I received a phone call from a friend who asked me whether I’d be interested in buying two tickets for that afternoon’s game at Dodger Stadium. He said they were available at face value, but added that I would need to drive to a hotel near Los Angeles International Airport to pick them up.

I said, “Yes, I want the tickets.”

As soon as I hung up the phone, I picked it up again to call a friend who I knew would want to come along. No answer. I left a message on the machine.

I called another friend. No answer. I left a message on the machine.

Another call. Same result.

I don’t recall exactly how many phone calls I made–maybe two or three more. Even though it was a Saturday, nobody was home, and because I didn’t want to be late for the game, I started to leave.

Before I reached the front door, the phone rang.

The caller was a college friend who I hadn’t seen for a few years or so. He had moved to the Midwest, but was in town on business and wanted to get together for lunch or dinner.

I said, “Do you want to go to the game at Dodger Stadium today?”

Knowing  he was (still is) a lifelong baseball fan, I knew the answer before he said yes.

I looked at the clock, knew we’d be cutting it close, so I told him I’d pick up the tickets and meet him at the Stadium.

I drove to LAX, picked up the tickets, drove to Dodger Stadium, met my friend, and on the way to the turnstiles, caught up on general stuff.  I told him the story about not being able to find anyone for the second ticket.

We agreed about the good timing.

1988 World Series–Game 1. Most baseball fans know how this game ended. Gibson hobbles to the plate, hits a 3-2 pitch over the right field wall. Gibson limps around the bases. Dodgers win. People who left in the 7th or 8th inning “to beat the traffic” curse themselves for the rest of their lives.

For me, there’s another unforgettable part of that game’s dramatic conclusion.

As the tension mounted and the count went full, picture a capacity crowd (minus at least a few dozen who got a head start toward the freeways)–shouting, yelling, whistling, screaming, clapping. Oakland’s ace reliever, Dennis Eckersley, delivers the 3-2 pitch. Gibson swings.

One of these days, I’m going to use a stopwatch to see how much time elapsed from the moment of contact–that crack of the bat–and the moment it descended like a crazy dream into some lucky fan’s hands there in the right field pavilion.

However many seconds passed (more than one, maybe close to four) an almost unbelievable silence (quick as it was) replaced the noise. It was as if everyone there–witnessing the almost inconceivable–simultaneously inhaled and wiped the sound away until, just as suddenly, the subsequent release of air launched a collective shout of joyful disbelief that transformed itself into at least a half hour of continuous shouting, yelling, whistling, screaming, clapping, and cheering. As we picked up our programs and left our seats, as we walked down the stairs, out to the parking lot, as we drove onto the freeway, and away from Dodger Stadium that evening, the cheering continued.

Theologians may point out technicalities to dispute the point. Skeptics and pessimists may dismiss the point as trivial or irrelevant in terms of the broader scope of Life on Earth.  But because the memory reminds me how the will to succeed can prevail over seemingly insurmountable obstacles, and that no matter how rarely miracles occur, what I saw in the bottom of the ninth inning on October 15, 1988 showed me that miracles can and do happen. You just have to keep yourself ready for them.  Grab a bat, step into the box, and take your best cut.

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  • billmiller81

    Great story. Makes me wish I was there! One of the greatest moments in baseball history, unless, of course, you were an A's fan. Bill

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