Another month of October had rolled around and with it, all the sights of fall. Leaves falling off the trees, houses decorated for Halloween, and the color orange all around. There is one thing that also comes with October that not many people notice: The World Series. The year 1988 was no different. The Los Angeles Dodgers were facing the Oakland Athletics in the fall classic of baseball.
Jonathan and his dad had watched almost every Dodger game of the season on their little TV in the living room. They would always make time to listen to Vin Scully call the game and watch the boys in blue take on all the different teams they would face. They never were able to make it to a game in real life at Chavez Ravine because Jonathan’s dad could never afford it, but little did Jonathan know that his dad had been saving up money all year to go to a World Series game if the Dodgers made it.
The playoffs rolled around, and the Dodgers were in the playoffs which meant Jonathan would get to go to a game. They faced the New York Mets in the National League Championship Series, and it turned out to be a stressful series. It would take all seven games to decide the team who would advance to the World Series. That team was the Los Angeles Dodgers. Jonathan’s dad immediately went and bought tickets for game one of the World Series at Chavez Ravine. Jonathan still had no idea he would be going to a Dodger game, let alone a World Series game.
On October fourteenth, the day before the first game, Jonathan’s dad took him out to lunch after school. Jonathan thought it was just another lunch with his dad until his dad asked him something. “What do you think it would be like to go to a World Series game with the Dodgers playing in the series?” his dad asked. Jonathan had never even seen a World Series game on TV before. This was the first year he and his dad had ever watched baseball because it was the first year they had ever had a TV.
Jonathan thought for a moment before replying. “I think it would be full of cheering, great pitching, and spectacular plays.”
His dad replied, “Sounds about right. What if I told you we were going to a World Series game?”
“No way. There is no way we could go to a World Series game. They are way too expensive.”
“Well we are.” Jonathan’s dad produced the two tickets from the pocket inside his jacket and placed them on the table in front of Jonathan. Jonathan’s eyes widened and he opened his mouth in amazement. He was speechless. He just sat there looking at the tickets, then at his dad, then back at the tickets. His dad sat there and chuckled at his son’s response.
Finally, Jonathan was able to produce some form of a sentence. “How were you able to get these? I thought we couldn’t afford tickets to games, especially a World Series game?”
“I’ve been saving up throughout the year in case the Dodgers made it this time,” replied his dad.
“Thank you so much dad!! I’m so excited!” Jonathan was finally going to be able to see his favorite team play in real life, and they would be playing in the biggest series of the year. He could hardly sleep that night because he just laid in his bed imagining what it was actually going to be like. When he described it to his dad, he wasn’t thinking he’d actually be sitting in the stadium watching the game. He had pictured himself and his dad sitting on the couch like always, watching the game on their little TV.
Finally, the next day came, and it was time for he and his dad to leave to head to the game. Jonathan was bouncing up and down in his seat the entire way to the stadium. As they pulled into the parking lot of the game, Jonathan finally sat still–not because he wasn’t excited anymore, but because he was just in pure shock that he was finally at the place he had seen so many times on TV. He couldn’t believe it was actually true; he was there.
Jonathan and his dad would be sitting in the right field bleachers, about midway up. They stood in the long lines outside of Dodger Stadium along with all the other people waiting to make their way in to watch the Dodgers take on the Athletics. After what seemed like hours, they were finally in the stadium. Jonathan stood there for a second, soaking it all in. The grass was a green he had never seen, the dirt seemed to have no flaws to it, and the empty bleachers would only be empty for a little longer.
The seats all around them began to fill up faster than Jonathan thought possible. One second there was no one around; and the next, he felt he could hardly move with all the people around him. The noise was something Jonathan had never heard before either. He could hardly hear his dad over the noise of the fans, and his dad was sitting right next to him. The game hadn’t even started yet!
Finally, the game started with the traditional “It’s time for Dodger baseball!” echoing through the stadium over the loud speakers. Jonathan got goose bumps from hearing it in person. He had heard it many times on the TV, but it was so much different hearing it live.
The Dodgers would strike first in the bottom of the first inning scoring two runs off of Oakland’s starter, Dave Stewart. However, Oakland would answer back in the top of the second, and in a big way, scoring four runs. The game would remain that until the bottom of the sixth when the Dodgers were able to scratch out another run. The game continued on into the ninth inning with the Dodgers trailing one. Jonathan’s legs were bouncing up and down in nervousness and he didn’t even realize until his dad said something about it.
In the bottom of the ninth, the first two batters were retired. The Dodgers were now down to their final out. “They can’t lose, Dad. This is our first game ever. They have to win; they have to win for us,” Jonathan said to his dad.
His dad responded, “You have to have faith, Jonathan. Anything can happen. This game can change with one swing of the bat.”
The third hitter of the inning was pinch-hitter, Mike Davis. The Dodgers needed him to get on in order for the game to keep going. Davis had been hitting well all season, and the Athletics didn’t want to risk pitching to him, so pitcher Dennis Eckersley walked Davis to get to the man on-deck, Dave Anderson. Anderson had not been hitting well, so the Athletics chose to take their chances with him. Little did they know, Anderson would not be hitting next. Dodgers’ manager, Tommy Lasorda, had sent Anderson out to the on-deck to fool Oakland, and it had worked. Instead, Kirk Gibson would hit.
“Dad, look who is hitting!! It’s Gibson!” Gibson was not supposed to play this game because he had injured both legs in the series before against the New York Mets. Here he was, though, limping out to the batter’s box, with the game on his shoulders.
Gibson quickly fell behind in the count, no balls and two strikes. He was patient, though, and took the next two pitches for balls. Gibson would then foul off the fifth pitch and take the sixth pitch for a ball. The count was now full, three balls and two strikes. Also, on the sixth pitch, Davis stole second. Gibson now had full count, runner on second, and the Dodgers down by a run.
Jonathan held his breath as Eckersley wound up and delivered the seventh pitch of the at bat. Gibson hit the ball high into the air, and Jonathan followed its path through the dark sky. It kept going and going, heading right for Jonathan and his dad. The ball fell into Jonathan’s glove. Gibson had hit a two run, walk-off home run, and won the game for the Dodgers. But Jonathan couldn’t believe he had caught the ball! He also couldn’t believe that the Dodger’s had won the game. Jonathan began to jump up and down, yelling along with everyone else in the stadium. “Dad, I caught his home run ball! I caught it, and they won the game! You were right, it only took one swing! I can’t believe this!” Jonathan exclaimed. His dad simply smiled back at him.
Gibson jogged around the bases with a slight limp, pumping his fist continuously as he made his way to home plate. He was met by a mob of his teammates, jumping and shouting for joy. The Dodgers had done it. They had won the game, and Jonathan was there to see it. He was also able to take home a prized possession. One I’m sure he would never let go of.
The Dodgers would go on to win the World Series, but no moment was bigger than that moment, when Kirk Gibson hobbled up to the plate and with one swing won the game for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Vin Scully said it best: “In a year that has been so improbable…the impossible has happened.”