Best Possible Game 1

The Los Angeles Dodgers were big underdogs to start the 1988 World Series. The Oakland A’s had the “Bash Brothers” in Mark McGwire and soon to be crowned MVP Jose Canseco, stalwart pitching ace Dave Stewart on the mound, and future Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley in the bullpen. To answer the Dodgers had Cy Young winner-in-waiting Orel Hershiser, but he was to pitch game two. Future MVP Kirk Gibson was out of the lineup with bad legs. It was supposed to be a walkover.

Somebody forgot to tell the Dodgers. They struck in the bottom of the first when Steve Sax was hit by a pitch, balked to second, then came home on Mickey Hatcher’s two-run homer. Hatcher was in the lineup as Gibson’s replacement and with that home run equalled his regular season total of one.

Not to worry if you’re the A’s. They struck back (literally) in the 2nd with a single, two walks, and Canseco’s grand slam that banged off a television camera (He later autographed the camera). The game remained 4-2 until the 6th when the Dodgers pushed across a run on three singles.

That set up the bottom of the ninth. With Eckersley on the mound, the A’s got 2 quick outs then their relief ace walked Mike Davis. The Dodgers sent up Gibson, gimpy legs and all to pinch hit for the pitcher. With two strikes he slugged a backdoor slider into the right field stands to win the game and send the Dodgers on their way to a 5 game victory. According to the story, a Dodgers scout had watched Eckersley enough to predict a backdoor slider in that situation and Gibson was waiting for it. Lost in the hoopla of Gibson’s home run was the significance of the Davis walk. Eckersley gets him out and Gibson never comes to bat. As an interesting aside, new Hall of Famer Doug Harvey was the home plate umpire for this game.

Honorable mention game 1’s:

1903-not just the first World Series game, but a heck of a game as the Pirates won 7-3.

1905-the first of Christy Mathewson’s 3 consecutive complete game shutouts in the series. He game up 4 hits in a 3-0 victory.

1929-geezer Howard Ehmke strikes out 13 Cubs to lead the A”s to a 3-1 victory.

1954-famous for Willie Mays’ great center field catch. The Giants won in 10 on Dusty Rhodes 3-run homer.

1966-Moe Drabowsky shuts down the Dodgers early to start a four game sweep for the Orioles.

1968-Gibson sets the strikeout record against Detroit.

2004-for those who like offense, the Red Sox and Cardinals beat up on each other in an 11-9 slugfest.


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3 Responses to “Best Possible Game 1”

  1. Sportsphd Says:

    Gibson’s home run is still the iconic moment from a game 1, even more than Mays. He wins the game and has the famous call.

  2. Cliff Blau Says:

    1929 or 1954 would be good picks, but I prefer 1889. The Giants and Dodgers meet for the first time in a championship game, the Dodgers jump out to a big lead in the first but the Giants claw their way back, only to lose their lead and the game in the last inning.

  3. verdun2 Says:

    I have a rule. I never compare events prior to the advent of the mound with events afterwards, so would not consider 1889. 1929 or 1954 aren’t bad choices.

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