The Sweetheart From ’88


It was 25 years ago today. Twenty-five years.

From 100 Things Dodgers Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die:

* * *

“A high fly ball to right field. She is …”

She is heavenly in our memory, still vivid, still true.

She is sailing from the pitcher’s hand toward a man on knotted stilts, all torso and determination and even a little secular prayer, but no legs, none to speak of. His bent front peg trembles, elevating slightly, the rear one already buckling.

She rises so slightly off an invisible cushion of air, then starts to settle, trailing away but not far enough away. The front peg descends under the weight of arms, strong, driving down into the strike zone.

She is inside the circumference of the catcher’s mitt, but the bat intercedes. The arms look horribly awkward, the back elbow bent at almost 90 degrees, the front arm cutting down in front to form a triangle. The back leg elevates at the heel as the batter lunges, almost to the point of falling down.

But she meets flush with the bat, ceasing to be a sphere, transforming into a comet. She is launched by a popgun, a croquet swing. The left wrist twists, then the hand loses the bat entirely. The follow-through whimpers like that of a novice tennis player, but it doesn’t change anything.

He looks up. His back leg comes down again, spread across home plate from his right. His left arm is cocked like a puncher. His first motion out of the batter’s box is of a runner. There’s been a mirage. The living, breathing, conquering athlete was in there all along.

She travels at the speed of light. The right fielder breaks back, taking one, two, three…four…five…six steps, slowing down, his mind and hope retreating before his legs even know. A single set of identical red lights, that’s all, prominently glowing but orphaned, can be seen under the peak of the pavilion roof, behind the brimming, jammed bleacher seats, not abandoned, not at all. Arms are soaring into the air in exultation.

She is crashing down from the sky; mass times acceleration, a shooting star at mission completion. She is in the crowd, she is in our heads, she is in our astonishment, she is in our incredulous joy, she has broken into our ever-loving, unappeasable souls and exploded.

She is …

“GONE!!!”

 

  • https://www.facebook.com/kmt59 KT

    Here’s hoping we knock that magic number to 6 tonight…I sort of want Zack today and Ricky tomorrow just because

    • Adam Luther

      Interesting, and you’d still potentially have the favorable match-up with Nolasco at home and the Kershaw/Ryu tandem in StL.

      • foul tip

        St. Louis v. LHP is a different and much worse offense, the numbers say.

      • TAFKA_Gagne55

        I think the point of Greinke in game 4 would be to make him available to start game 7.

  • thescrounger

    Ethier used to be one of my favorite players. No more. I can remember very little in the way of contributions from him. I know his stats this year are about average and he did play in center field much of the year, but I think our interests might have been better served by bringing up Pedderson. Note I said “might”. We can almost count on a strikeout whenever he bats and his body language when he walks away makes me think he too expected it. And he isn’t going to impress anyone in center field. Beltrans double in Game 1 was very “catchable” and he was there in time, but I think his mind was more on not hitting the fence too hard rather than catching the ball. You won’t see that with Kemp or Puig. Our options at this point are limited to non-existent. Schumacher is no better but he does try harder. SVS ? Ha! Organizational failure in not finding an adequate replacement for Kemp. Or was Puig that guy before he became a replacement for Ethier? Picking up an outfielder might have been better than getting Michael Young.Oh well, this is the Dodgers, why would we expect it to go easy???

    • Adam Luther

      I think Ethier frankly was just rusty from not playing and misplayed the ball. With that, to see Torii Hunter flying head over heels over the Red Sox RF alley wall and into the Boston bullpen was all out sacrifice.

  • LittleBlueBicycle

    I remember the pitch, the call, the win, my Mom called from Virginia, my kid couldn’t sleep so we took him for a drive in the dark Illinois night.

    • Onlyatriple

      yes me too, one of those “I’ll always remember where I was moments..” I was in my apartment in Somerville MA, it was late at night, and my girlfriend was asleep. My TV was 13 inches, my chair was about two feet from the screen, and I was doing my best to keep from waking her up. But when that ball left his bat I leapt from my chair screaming and woke up not only my girlfriend, but the entire neighborhood I am sure.

  • WBBsAs

    I was watching at home with several friends, including an A’s fan and two Gnatfans who had come to gloat. When Gibson hit it, the A’s fan leapt up and shut off the TV, but one of the Gnatfans acknowledged that he’d seen something truly memorable.

    • Adam Luther

      Classic response from the fans – the A’s were just completely turned upside down after Gibson’s lone AB, and most devestating result, in the series.

      • WBBsAs

        Most A’s fans are loyal and enthusiastic, but Lew Wolff has alienated so many of them – worse than McCourt, he is.

  • Patrick

    Great write-up!! Gave me goosbumps, as did that memorable moment. I will NEVER forget that homerun!

  • Adam Luther

    In ’88 I had the VCR running and was running out of tape at the end of the cassette so I had to “edit/pause/record” for the final AB – which is fun to watch with all of Gibson’s fall balls. Of course now I can purchase the entire NBC version of the game via iTunes which I will review once again on this historic day. Thanks for a new perspective on the most famous moment in L.A. Dodger history.

  • Adam Luther

    I wonder if the Dodgers will be showing the Gibson highlight through out BP and pre-game festivities.

  • foul tip

    So, are the Dodgers facing DancingBearGate for this?

    “The unofficial mascot was later escorted from the stadium”

    http://ftw.usatoday.com/2013/10/dodgers-rally-bear/

    • WinnipegDave

      Uribear – is that you?

    • https://www.facebook.com/kmt59 KT

      arrested and probably banned for life from DS…nope not me

    • Branch_Rickey

      That was some seriously bizarre fan behavior. Guy (or girl?) in a bear costume jumps up on the dugout to be a momentary mascot with the likely outcome being a pummeling and arresting. I am confident I will never completely understand human motivations.

    • ASW1

      Ha! – I had turned away, doing something or other, and my 12 year old son said “Dad, why is there a bear running around on top of the dugout?” I looked over but the shot of the bear was over. I said something like “No way, you’re kidding, right?” He said, “No, seriously, what the heck?” I told him not to worry – probably just some clown looking to get tossed out of the game.
      Glad I turned out to be right.

  • http://www.dodgerthoughts.com/ Jon Weisman
    • TAFKA_Gagne55

      I read “Orel histories” the first time.

      • http://www.dodgerthoughts.com/ Jon Weisman

        Me too.

        • 14hodges

          ME, TOO!

  • btimmer

    Old friends Brian Falkenborg and Vicente Padilla were released by the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks today.

  • scooplew

    On that magical night of the Gibson homer, my wife was out of town and I was home with our one-year-old daughter. Because I knew she wouldn’t be going to bed until later, I taped the game with the intent of watching it after she was asleep.
    At about 8 p.m., the calls started coming in. The first from an old friend in Philly, who said something about the screenwriters coming up with that. I cut him off, explaining I was taping. The second from my late father who was very excited. He was a Brooklyn native who was born in 1916 and was a lifelong fan. I cut him off as well. The third from a neighbor, a big Giants fan, saying the Dodgers were lucky SOBs. I cut him off, too.
    A couple of hours later with the game long over but me still being in the dark, another neighbor, a big Dodgers fan who knew I was taping, came over with a bottle of Scotch and two glasses said that he wanted to watch the end of the game on tape with me.
    We did.

  • michaelgreenlasvegas

    I was then going to grad school in New York City and had no TV. I borrowed one from another dorm resident, put it on the bed, and sat there reading and watching because I had no time NOT to study. When the ball left Eckersley’s hand, time slowed down. I said to myself, I think I could hit that pitch. And then ….

  • btimmer

    The “Mickey Mouse” stuff that Wainwright was referring to was, according to this article,
    http://www.stltoday.com/sports/baseball/professional/cardinals-suffer-letdown-in-la/article_cda87d93-d376-5e1c-8dc1-d42b77cdee30.html#.Ul1rKhqYX2Q.facebook

    attempts by Gonzalez to heckle Wainwright while he was pitching.

    • Adam Luther

      This just in…Uribear to be replaced by Mickey Mouse.

  • Jon_Wymore

    Remember that night when I was 12 years old for sure…..

    If you would have told me the Cardinals would score 4 runs in first 3 games, I would sure think that the Dodgers would be up 3-0 or 2-1…..crazy.

  • Adam Luther

    After all these years I had not heard Don Drysdale’s radio call on the Dodger Network – it is now my new favorite: http://youtu.be/FpsqaSJkovw

  • https://www.facebook.com/kmt59 KT

    Did you see the picture of me a few fellow MSTI bloggers on TV

    http://i.imgur.com/804l9iS.jpg

    Taken from:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=YAytjLwbAQs

    • https://www.facebook.com/kmt59 KT

      look just like this IRL

      • WBBsAs

        Focus, please?

        • https://www.facebook.com/kmt59 KT

          exactly

          • RBI

            You look blurrier than I remember.

  • https://www.facebook.com/kmt59 KT

    A guy on MSTI has 1, maybe 2 tickets up for grabs for tonight’s game. Face value is $88, but he’d settle for $65 and consider it an attempted-scalper-tax. 29 Reserve, seats are next to him and 2 rows above me @KMT59 His twitter handle is @TheSlaynami

  • 14hodges

    Twenty-five years ago my family was on one of the many camping trips of my childhood. We had scheduled the trip with another family and so we didn’t reschedule because of the Series. We were in rural Virginia, on the top of a mountain. My dad, a life-long, die-hard Dodger fan, rigged up a small TV and went through great pains with rabbit ears and aluminum foil in order to be able to watch Game 1. Everyone else was sleeping in tents and my dad and I were the only ones watching when Gibson hit the home run. When it went out, I remember my dad screaming, “ALL RIGHT!!!” into the darkness and the outside silence. And then we were silent for a moment as Vin Scully let us listen to the crowd. If it’s possible, the darkness, the isolation, and the quiet of our setting added to the drama. It is a father-daughter moment that I will always cherish and never forget.

  • NoahUCLA

    I was babysitting in NY when I saw the homerun on TV. It was crazy. I wanted to call all my friends, but in the days before cell phones, and my being a responsible kid who didn’t call a million people on other people’s phones, I had to wait. I agree with Jon’s previous post as well, that I don’t see any good reason to pitch Greinke on short rest. I was all for Kershaw on short rest against the Braves, but Greinke would have been on regular rest in game 5. If you want to avoid Nolasco entirely here, then you need to pitch everyone on short rest, which won’t happen with Ryu and if you’re going to have to pitch Nolasco anyway, why not keep your other pitchers at their optimum.

  • Greg Sands

    Do you still have Drysdale’s call?

  • http://www.twitter.com/ElJefedor Jeffrey Thomas III

    http://img.gawkerassets.com/img/193b3fayw3k2epng/original.png

    Posted over at Deadspin without comment.

  • http://www.dodgerthoughts.com/ Jon Weisman

    NPUT