1988, GAME 1
In 1988, Oakland A’s closer Dennis Eckersley was automatic. Slowly now: AU-TO-MA-TIC. He racked up 45 saves in the regular season, and was just starting a second career as a relief pitcher, a run that would later land him in the Hall of Fame. So in Game 1 of the ’88 Series, with his A’s up 4-3 over the Los Angeles Dodgers in the bottom of the ninth, Dodgers fans could well have headed for the exits (and this being L.A., some did). Eckersley got two quick outs, then walked scrub pinch hitter Mike Davis. Kirk Gibson, the ’88 National League MVP who was crippled by a slew of injuries, limped out of the dugout to pinch-hit. Like Roy Hobbs in The Natural, a one-footed Gibson took an unsightly swing at a 3-2 Eckersley slider. The ball sailed into the right field seats. Announcer Jack Buck’s pitch perfect call: “I don’t believe what I just saw!” The Dodgers, who on paper belonged in the Little League World Series, beat Oakland in five games.