Franchise Comparison: Historic Home Run
Welcome to my first installment of my 3,864 part series of comparing the Dodgers and Giants (no, Stephen Colbert, I didn’t steal this idea from your better know a district segment…right). Over the coming weeks, maybe months, possibly years, I’ll be comparing various plays, people, and anything else you or I could think of, between the Dodgers and Giants. I’ll write a little synopsis about each side, give my conclusion, and hope you chime in. Maybe it can be like in high school where teachers give you the option of strong disagree, disagree, agree, or strongly agree, and you can tell me how great or terrible I am. First up, of course, are the Dodgers.
It was a lucky year of the Dragon, 1988. Orel Hershiser put together an amazing year Cy Young year, breaking a consecutive inning streak by Don Drysdale and carried the staff into the playoffs.. However, a phenomenon was happening in Oakland. Well traveled pitcher Dennis Eckersley came to the Oakland A’s as a mediocre starter where Tony LaRussa planned to use him as a long relief man. An injury to their closer the previous year pushed Eckersely into the closer role, and he had a breakout year in 1988. Closing wasn’t necessarily just a one inning affair in those days, sometimes it took 4 outs, others 8, but saves weren’t the 3 out cake walks they are today.
Kirk Gibson, a year after winning a hearing that proved owners colluded against him, chose to sign with the Dodgers and became an MVP and clubhouse leader. He eventually lead the Dodgers to the World Series win that year, but it was game 1 that really distinguished his career. After injuring both his legs in the NLCS and battling a stomach virus, Gibson wasn’t expected to be available for the game. He hobbles up to the plate, takes a few abysmal swings, and then knocks a well placed slider from Eckersley over the right field fence to win the game. I know many of you Giants fans won’t admit to doing it, but doing the Kirk Gibson fist-pump as a walk-off is pretty standard celebration. Certainly, a classic home run that eventually lead to the Dodgers winning the World Series in 1988. Let’s move onto the, you guessed it, Giants.
No, there is no “P” in his last name, as so many baseball fans commonly misspell. Before we get into this home run, Thomson was a legit player throughout his career. He had eight consecutive season of 20+ homers, and this is no small feat when you played at a field with the dimensions of the Polo Grounds. It was 1951, as the last years of Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Giant baseball were beginning to whisper rumors of the west, and the Dodgers were dominating all season. This was pre-playoff era, so each team with the best record from the American and National leagues played one another in the World Series. The Giants erased a 13 and a half game deficit on the Dodgers to force a three game playoff at the end of the season. As the real life movie script goes, the game was decided in the 3rd and final game in the bottom of the ninth. Russ Hodges gave the call, and the screams of “The Giants win the pennant, the Giants win the pennant!” after Thomson hits the home run, instantly becoming the epitome of classic broadcasting. The only qualm I have, is that calling it “The Shot Heard ‘Round the World” is a bit misleading, for there wasn’t internet or any other medium that could make this phrase literally true. However, it was a truly amazing home run.
My conclusion may surprise you. Especially since it’s my first franchise comparison, but it has to go to the Giants. Bobby Thomson was playing against the Dodgers which really tips off the classic-ness for me. What do you think? Which home run would you choose and why? Thanks again for reading, and please let me know if you enjoy or despise the franchise comparison. I mean, I have a long commitment to the series that will require a lot of attention. Let me know in the comments or by email!