30 Day Baseball Card Challenge

Sunday, July 17, 2011

I love the 80's (Baseball Edition) #6: Kirk Gibson

Topics often fall into multiple categories. Kirk Gibson is no exception.

I had difficulty deciding if I should put him into the "Players I Hate to Love" category or adding him to my "I Love The 80's" collection.

I chose the latter, because his iconic performances stir up baseball memories (albeit mostly painful) that were generated from one particular era: the 80's.

His career lasted 17 seasons in which he played for four different teams (Tigers, Dodgers, Royals, and Pirates). During that time, he collected over 1,500 hits and 250 round trippers... the majority of these were accomplished during the 80's... a decade in which Mr. Gibson was a pain in my butt.

In an interview with Steiner Sports, he said "I was an average player in my career, but I did some exceptional things at some really important times". He went on to talk about his home run off of Goose Gossage during the 1984 World Series against my favorite team: The San Diego Padres.

Gibson went 3 for 4 with two home runs in the fifth and final game of the series... knocking in 5 runs... and single handedly clinching the game for the Tigers.

And of course... there's one of the greatest moments in World Series history. Gibson was not expected to play because of injuries to his left hamstring and his right knee. But with a runner on base in the ninth inning... down 4 to 3 to the Oakland Athletics (my other favorite team)... with two outs... and Oakland's all-star closer (& ALCS MVP) on the mound... Tommy Lasorda called Gibson's number and he went in to pinch hit.

Dennis Eckersley started off strong and quickly got an 0-2 count. But Gibson fought back and eventually worked his way back to a full count. He sent the next pitch over the right field fence with one of the most painful (for both him and me) walk-off homeruns I've ever witnessed.

Gibson and the Dodgers erased the 4-2 lead, Jose Canseco's second inning grand slam gave them... and never looked back. They won the 1988 World Series in five games and for the second time in a decade... he had ripped out my heart with clutch performances.

As sports fans... we've all experienced heart breaking moments in sports. Sometimes it's when your favorite player is traded to a team you hate... Rickey Henderson (1984).

Maybe it's when your favorite quarterback throws a crucial interception in overtime during the NFC Championship Game, which leads to a game ending field goal for the other team (Brett Favre - 2008 - last season with the Packers).

It could even be when your team gets eliminated from the playoffs (year after year after year after year) after working so hard to get there (the San Jose Sharks).

What are some of your painful sports memories?

C'mon... I know it's hard to talk about... but it's time to open up and let us help you heal.

Okay... time to get ready for the big game... the Women's World Cup Final game between Team USA and Nadeshiko Japan. This is exactly the finals matchup I hoped for. Nationality vs. Ancestry.

Ironically... there hopefully won't be any painful memories for me today. I'll be pulling for Wambach, Solo, Rampone, and the rest of Team USA. A win today would wrap up an amazing tale that climaxed with an amazing fairy tale win over Brazil last Sunday. Talk about greatest sports memories and heartbreakers (if you were cheering for Brazil)... do yourself a favor and watch this video:

If you're strapped for time... skip to the 5 minute mark and watch the historical play develop right before your eyes. The video was shot from a fan's perspective and gives you the feeling that you were actually there. Hopefully today's game will be just as exciting with a similar outcome.

However if Japan pulls off a miracle, I won't be too disappointed. After seeing the damage the tsunami caused earlier this year... they can use a little positive mojo in their lives.

Have a great day... and sayonara!


  1. Blackburn Rovers fan, so any time but 1992 & 1995.

    Team getting relegated in 1999 that broke my heart!

  2. I gots just two.... World Series 2009, and October Playoffs, 2010!! But this year could be so different. Thankfully I've had a lot more highlights in my sports watching than low-lights.

  3. The Atlanta Braves, for about 15 years straight (other than '95). Being that good and only sealing the deal once was pretty tough. I think it kind of ruined Braves fans, too, because despite consistently making a postseason appearance fans started saying how much the Braves suck but expected them to win.

  4. Players I love getting traded (Mike Piazza, Carlos Santana), and being too hurt in the playoffs to contribute (LT).

  5. 1981-82 NFC Championship Game

    a third string never was receiver makes "The Catch" and then never does anything else in his career.

    1991 World Series Game 7

    Jack Morris. Oh, and that cheater Kent Hrbek too....

  6. Two for starters, Cubs 1984 loss to the Padres in the NLCS and likewise to the Marlins in 2003. I still remember the Blackhawks loss to the Canadiens in game 7 of the 1971 Stanley Cup Finals. They had a 2-0 lead in the 2nd period and ended up losing 3-2.

  7. -- Four straight Super Bowl losses by you-know-who.

    -- Back-to-back losses by Dodgers to Yankees in World Series when I was just a youngster.

    -- Bleepin' Jack Clark and Ozzie Smith in '85 NLCS.

    -- Mookie Wilson vs. Bill Buckner in '86. Red Sox are my family's team.

    -- Bucky bleeping Dent in '78 special playoff vs. Red Sox.

    -- Jonathan Broxton meltdown vs. Phillies in NLCS in '09.

    I could go on.

  8. The year was 2001, post 9/11. NYC had been rocked to its core and needed something to uplift spirits. I had already been to Game 3 where President Bush threw out the first pitch and Game 4 where Jeter hit a walk off Home Run to win it in the 10th inning. But the most vivid memory I have was watching the 9th inning of Game 7 on the streets of NYC, through the window of a Sports Bar, as the Yankees lost on a bloop single. The image of Jay Bell crossing the plate is seared into my brain. You could feel the air get sucked out of the city.

  9. When the Cardinals made the Super Bowl. A day I never thought I'd see, and then to have it ripped away. I don't even wanna talk about it.

  10. Since Canada did lousy in the tournament, my ancestry took over and WOO HOO--Japan wins 3-1

    Mine also involves Kirk Gibson--1987 Toronto Blue Jays
    With seven games to play, the Blue Jays were 96-59 and had a 3.5-game lead. On the second-to-last Sunday, the Blue Jays took a 1-0 lead into the ninth inning against the Tigers, but Kirk Gibson's home run tied the game, and Detroit won in 13 innings. The Blue Jays didn't win again. They finished 96-66, and the Tigers caught them with a sweep in the final weekend, winning three one-run games: 4-3, 3-2 and 1-0. Toronto finished the season two games behind.

  11. Raiders losing to the Pats in the Snow Bowl when Tom Brady clearly fumbled.

    Broxton messing up in 2009 NLCS Game 4 in the bottom of the 9th.

    Frank McCourt being born.

  12. As a Colchester United fan the most painful moment for me was when the club were relegated to the football conference, thats the fifth teir of football in the UK.We have since bounced back, but it is the only time I have cried at a football match.I was interviewed for local TV after the game but my interview was never shown due to me letting the reporter know what I thought of his "amusing questions".That was also the closest I have been to being arrested.

    Baseball wise, The Rays losing in the 2008 WS.

  13. Jeffrey "Effing" Maier vs. the Yankees.

    I remember hearing about Tony Tarasco talking about kicking his ass if he saw him today.

    Painfule memories for fans and players alike.

  14. Oakland A's playoffs from 2001-2004 we're the worst for me...the Jeter flip, Byrns missing the plate, game 5 losses, each one was tough.

    I'm a Raptors fan as well, so that's been pretty brutal but the worst was losing to Vince and the Nets a few years ago in the second (I think) round.

  15. ryan g - i'm not a braves fan... but i was pulling for maddux a lot of those years (since the a's and padres weren't in it very much).

    captain - i remember watching that clark's catch and everyone at my house going crazy (except me)... couldn't stand the 49ers.

    night owl - awesome list... 1 extra point.

    baseball nut - yeah that must have hurt... but you're a yankees fan (so i don't feel too bad for you) ;-) however 9/11 affected millions of lives and definitely was a heartbreaker (one of those moments where you'll never forget where you were when it happened)

    kazi - maybe Gibson just has something against teams who have Japanese supporters ;-)

    spiegel83 - i was hoping someone would bring up the brady incident

    kirk - yeah... that sucked. umpires screwed up royally that night.

    nathan - i'm an a's fan too... so i feel your pain.

    fyi - my next post is up... so this post is officially closed for contest points. thanks for the excellent responses... it was an interesting read.