Remember, I became a Bums fan in 1957, before they left Brooklyn. That was due to Topps #400 card in the 1957 baseball card set, which I got in my first nickel pack – the famous Dodgers’ Sluggers card that was Topps’ first stars card.
The irony was that my first card, bought in a penny pack a week earlier, was the Bobby Thompson card that hooked me on the hobby and sport. Thompson, of course, hit the (second) “Shot Heard ‘Round the World” in 1951 to rob the Dodgers of the pennant. After decades of frustration, the Dodgers finally won their first Series in 1955, against the despised Yankees.
Moving to Los Angeles in 1958, they won in 1959, when I had grown up as a fan. They won again in 1963 and 1965, behind Sandy Koufax, the greatest left-handed pitcher ever. And in 1981, with perhaps the best infield ever.
But the most memorable Series win was in 1988, when Kirk Gibson, limping on two injured legs and thus really only able to swing with his arms, hobbled to the plate as a pinch-hitter with two out in the ninth inning of the first game. He ran the count to 3-2 and then awkwardly homered for the win. He limped slowly around the bases and was unable to play the rest of the series, which the Dodgers won 4-1.
Gibson and Thompson’s homers are generally considered the most memorable moments in baseball history.
The Dodgers now have the most Series appearances of any National League team, 21. Although they’ve been the dominant NL team since 2013 and appeared in three of the last four Series, this was their first Series championship since 1988. That makes this one sweet, but even more so for the memorable performances and character of nearly every member of this team.
Shortstop Corey Seager, the unanimous winner of the Series’ Most Valuable Player award, hit .400 and eight clutch homers in the National League series and against the Rays.
With stellar fielding, hitting and base-running, Mookie Betts showed why the Dodgers paid megabucks to land him in the off-season. What an inspiration with at least three great catches! And Clayton Kershaw won two games and found redemption after frustrating post-season losses the last seven years.
Justin Turner was pulled late in the game because he had tested positive for Corona virus. Before that, his hitting was awesome, but fans will remember most the play in which he dove in the dirt to tag out one baserunner between third and home, and then still down, whirled and threw out another runner at third base. Max Muncy, Will Smith and Joc Pederson put up great batting numbers or key monstrous homers.
Cody Bellinger got things started with a big homer to score the team’s first Series run; and he robbed the Atlanta Braves of a homer in the National League series. Also credit starter Walker Buehler, who was completely dominant in his game; ace relief pitcher Julio Urias: Kike Hernandez, Chris Taylor, Austin Barnes, A.J. Pollock, Kenley Jansen and half-a-dozen other relievers, and of course manager Dave Roberts.
No one will forget the steely determination that led them to win three in a row in the National League series after being down 3-1. Although they gave away Series game four in the last inning, they were steely-eyed and determined in the other games – real men.
Monday, the U.S. Senate confirmed Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court and Mr. Justice Clarence Thomas, my favorite, swore her in at the White House. President Trump gave a fine speech.
Also Monday, I received a copy of the book The Essential Scalia, a compendium of writings by perhaps America’s greatest jurist. It includes a warm forward by Justice Elena Kagan, one of his ideological opponents and great friends. Class!
I began Monday with a trip to my back surgeon’s Nurse Practitioner, who relieved me of my back brace and cane. What a prelude to today!
Ron Knecht, MS, JD & PE(CA) has served Nevadans as state controller, a higher education regent, economist, college teacher and legislator. Contact him at RonKnecht@aol.com.