The Rangers are making their first trip as a franchise to the World Series, but some of them have already been there. Rangers third-base coach Dave Anderson was a first-hand witness to one of the greatest moments in World Series history: Kirk Gibson's game-winning home run for the Dodgers in Game 1 against the Athletics in 1988. Anderson was a reserve infielder for the Dodgers, playing behind shortstop Alfredo Griffin, mainly, and was on the bench at the time. Gibson was the Dodgers outfielder and 1988 National League Most Valuable Player who couldn't start Game 1 because of leg injuries sustained in the NLCS.
"I had gone into the clubhouse about the seventh inning and Gibson was hitting balls off a tee into the net," Anderson said. "I said, 'Gibby what are you doing?' He said, 'If I get a chance, I'm going to pinch-hit.'" Flash forward to the bottom of the ninth inning. The Dodgers are down, 4-3, and future Hall of Fame closer Dennis Eckersley is on the mound for the Athletics. He retired the first two batters, bringing up Alfredo Griffin, the Dodgers' No. 8 hitter. The pitcher's spot was on deck. Mike Davis went up to pinch-hit for Griffin. Anderson went into the on-deck circle to hit in the pitcher's spot. So everybody thought. "I was there because if Davis hits a home run, I bat and then go play shortstop," Anderson said. "After he walks, Gibson comes up to pinch-hit. As you see him come up, you see me walking back to the dugout. But if Gibson gets a hit and ties the game, I pinch-run for him and then go in to play shortstop." Anderson had just been activated for the World Series. A back injury had sidelined him for much of September as well as the entire National League Championship Series. "I still wasn't 100 percent, but I wanted to play," Anderson said. He watched as Gibson worked the count full and then hit a back-door slider into the right field seats for a game-winning home run. "I was like everybody else ... I couldn't believe the guy," Anderson said. "I just didn't think ... especially after the first couple of swings. I was just saying, 'If this guy can put the ball in play, we might get lucky.' But as soon as he hit it, I knew it was gone."
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.