Off Base
23 years ago today: The other shot heard round the world

October 15, 2011, 12:37 a.m.23 years ago today, someone hit a baseball 400 feet or so. Seems it went over a fence in Los Angeles. And the guy limped around the bases, if I remember correctly, wearing uniform number 23. Perhaps you heard something about it.

That’s silliness, of course. But it’s been 23 years, and there’s not a Dodger skeptic or Giants fan alive who won’t tell us to move on already. “What are you doing still celebrating that old thing, Los Angeles?” they’d say, conveniently forgetting the almost-60-years of sticking Bobby Thomson in our face.

Anyone over the age of 35 who cares even remotely about baseball can tell you where they were when Kirk Gibson hit that home run. Dodger fans remember vividly; where they were, what they were doing, and what it felt like. I was sitting in the club level, have the ticket stub to prove it, recall bear hugging total strangers like we’d just been saved from a burning building or something, and consider it the absolute coolest thing I’ve ever seen in my life.

I don’t know about you, but I’m somewhat of a baseball savvy individual, and there are only two moments in Dodgers history that I can name right down to the exact day, and in one case, to the minute. Sandy Koufax’s perfect game; “the time on the scoreboard is 9:44, the date, September the ninth, nineteen-sixty-five.”

And Gibby’s walkoff. Game One of the World Series, Saturday, October the fifteenth, nineteen-eighty-eight. If only the famous shot of the baseball sailing over Jose Canseco’s head and into the pavilion, brake lights and all, had picked up a little more of the scoreboard, I could’ve given you the precise time.

So here we are, 23 years between World Series in Los Angeles. 23. And I can remember when the eight years between 1966 and 1974 seemed like an eternity. Next year, win or lose, the Dodgers will have gone three times as long between pennants.

In 1988, it had been but seven years since the club’s last world championship. Shoot, in 1988 “I Love L.A.,” not to mention the wave (and let’s not) were mere children. And back then, Frank McCourt actually knew how to manage a checking account.

Major League Baseball has a bunch of must-bookmark stuff on the matter at First – very obviously first – is Vin Scully’s classic television call, along with some interview material from the then-gimpy number 23, Mr. Kirk Harold Gibson. And Jack Buck’s almost-as-beloved radio version.

So forgive us while we celebrate, San Francisco, you one-thing-to-cheer-about-in-your-miserable-53-year-existence-baseball-town.

It’s happy anniversary to us, thank you very much. And thanks to Kirk Gibson. And to Mike Davis. And to Mickey Hatcher and Tommy Lasorda. Thank you for seven shutout innings of relief Tim Leary and Brian Holton and Alejandro Pena.

And thanks for that back door slider, Dennis Eckersley. We’re eternally grateful, trust me. It’s only been 23 years. It’s our anniversary and it’s only been 23 years. What’s 23 years? Piece of cake.






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