Kirk Gibson played 17 years in the majors, and later became a manager. He played 12 seasons for the Detroit Tigers, including in their impressive 1984 season when they had 104 victories and easily won the 1984 World Series. He also was a key player for the 1988 Dodgers and in the 1988 World Series; it was a year in which he was named 1988 National League MVP.
Gibson’s pinch hit two-run home run off Dennis Eckersley in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series gave the Los Angeles Dodgers a 5-4 win over the Oakland A’s and propelled the Dodgers to a 4 games to 1 Series triumph over the heavily-favored A’s. The 1988 NL MVP was hobbled by two injuries, one to his left hamstring and the other to his right knee, and it was considered a foregone conclusion that he would not be able to play. Few baseball fans will ever forget the sight of Gibson hobbling around the bases to the silken sound of Vin Scully’s voice crying out, “In a year that has been so improbable, the impossible has happened!” It was his only at bat of the series.
There are three extant calls of this legendary homer: Scully’s national call on NBC-TV, Don Drysdale’s on the Dodger radio network, and Jack Buck’s call on national (CBS) radio. His famous words – “And the 3-2 pitch coming here, from Eckersley. Gibson swings and a fly ball to deep right field. Is it gonna be a home run? Unbelievable!! A home run for Gibson!!! And the Dodgers have won the game 5-4. I dont believe what I just saw!” Gibson is probably the best player (and only former MVP) never to have been selected for the All-Star Game.
Gibson heard Scully’s broadcast, saying his injury was too severe, that he cannot play. He used those words as incentive to try hitting baseballs off a Tee and prepare himself.
Scully’s call: “In a year that has been so improbable, the impossible has happened!”
Los Angeles over the decades has boasted such great stars as Jerry West, Elgin Baylor, Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Magic Johnson, Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale, Mike Piazza, Norm Van Brocklin, Bob Waterfield, Eric Dickerson, Wayne Gretzky, etc. But Gibson’s home run easily and repeatedly has been voted the greatest moment in Los Angeles sports history.
Gibson was also an All-American football wide receiver at Michigan State University. He was also a television broadcaster for the Detroit Tigers from 1998 to 2002 and the Tigers bench coach from 2003 to 2005. He was named bench coach of the Arizona Diamondbacks following in 2007, then on July 1, 2010 succeeded A.J. Hinch as the team’s manager.