Sunday, November 14, 2010
Gibson HR and bat historic in nature
By Mark Simon
Early Sunday morning, the bat Kirk Gibson used to hit his famous walk-off home run in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series sold for $575,912.40 in an auction from which partial proceeds (totaling slightly less than $200,000) went to the Kirk Gibson Foundation. Gibson's bat, helmet and jersey combined to bring in more than $1 million.
A little more than a month ago, Gibson was featured in a series that ran on "SportsCenter" and "Baseball Tonight," "I Hit A Walk-Off Home Run," spotlighting the most famous walk-off home runs in postseason history.
Here's what Gibson had to say about his prized, or not-so-prized, bat during his interview:
"You can see the whole at-bat right there on the bat. The red ink from the foul balls, the cleat marks in the head of the bat, from me hitting my cleats in between pitches the tar that was all over it. It was a Worth WC157.
"You get 12 bats in an order, and what you do is you go through and you weigh them all, and then you pick them up and you kind of can feel which ones feel balanced and which ones don’t feel balanced.
"That bat right there was a reject bat. I used to use a 33-34-35 inch bat, and that bat was a 31-31½- inch bat, and I never felt comfortable with it, so I just kind of stocked it in the back room.
"But, at the end of the year, I started to get really tired, and then when I got hurt, I started going to look for all my light bats because I really didn’t have my legs under me and that one’s got an X on the end for x-out, no-good bat. It turned out to be a pretty good bat, didn’t it?"
Most familiar with the home run may know that this was the one from which the term "walk-off" was coined (Dennis Eckersley used the term when speaking afterward), but here are a few things you may not know about that magic moment.
Man for the moment –- Gibson hit four come-from-behind, walk-off home runs in the regular season, one shy of the major league record shared by Babe Ruth, Frank Robinson, and Fred McGriff.
How rare it was –- At the time, Gibson was the second player in postseason history to hit a walk-off hit with his team trailing and down to its last out. The first was Cookie Lavagetto, whose two-run walk-off double not only gave the 1947 Dodgers a win over the Yankees but also broke up a no-hitter by Bill Bevens. Three players have had this sort of walk-off hit since –- Francisco Cabrera, Ivan Rodriguez and Jimmy Rollins.
He stands alone –- The Dodgers have won 48 postseason games in their home ballpark but have only won on a walk-off home run once. They have four other postseason walk-off hits.
Pinch him -- To that point in his career, Gibson had 57 pinch-hit at-bats. He had 12 hits, a .211 batting average and no home runs. He’d finish his career with three pinch-hit regular-season home runs but didn't hit any of them until 1994.
Eckersley knew what to do next time -- Gibson’s next meaningful at-bat against Eckersley didn’t come until Opening Day 1993, when Gibson came up with runners on second and third with two outs in the eighth inning. With a one-run lead, Eckersley took no chances and issued an intentional walk. He struck out Rob Deer to end the inning, and the Athletics went on to win the game.
To read Gibson's take on that historic moment, check out the story at ESPNLA.com