The 15 greatest L.A. Dodgers of all time, No. 15: Kirk Gibson
First we asked you to pick the top L.A. Kings of all time and received over 1,000 ballots. Then we asked for the top L.A. Lakers of all time and received over 6,000 ballots. Now we've moved on to the Dodgers -- and received over 11,000 ballots.
Reminder: You could only vote for players connected in some way with the L.A. franchise, not Brooklyn. You were asked to send in your list, in order, of the 10 greatest L.A. Dodgers of all time. First place received 12 points, second place received nine, all the way down to one point for 10th place. There was such a wide variety of votes cast, everyone from peanut man Roger Owens to Dodger Stadium itself, that I have decided to expand the final results to list the top 15. The top three vote-getters received far and away the most votes of anyone else. We will countdown one a day, starting with No. 15, and ending with No. 1.
So, without further ado:
No. 15: Kirk Gibson (7,306 points)
Gibson joined the Dodgers, who were coming off of two losing seasons, in 1988, and almost immediately made his presence felt. In spring training, relief pitcher Jesse Orosco smeared shoe polish on the inside of Gibson's cap, leaving Gibson's forehead smeared with it when he wore his cap during an exhibition game. Realizing what had happened, Gibson immediately pulled himself from the game, and tore into his teammates afterward for their lack of professionalism, telling them he now knew why they had been losers for the last two seasons.
Gibson quickly became the leader of the team and won the NL MVP award for the season after batting .290 with 25 home runs, 76 RBIs, 106 runs and 31 stolen bases. This only set the stage for one of the most remarkable home runs in baseball history.
Gibson began Game 1 of the World Series on the bench because of injuries to both legs. With the Dodgers trailing in the bottom of the ninth, 4-3, and Mike Davis on first, Gibson came up as a pinch-hitter, facing the best closer in baseball, Dennis Eckersley of Oakland. Unable to catch up to Eckersley's fastball, Gibson quickly fell behind in the count, 0 and 2, but fouled off several pitches and worked the count full. Remembering a scouting report by Mel Didier that said Eckersley would throw a backdoor slider on a full count, Gibson homered, giving the Dodgers a dramatic 5-4 victory.
Gibson spent only three seasons with the Dodgers, and it is his World Series homer that put him in 15th place ahead of many Dodgers who had been with the team much longer but never had a moment half as memorable.
-- Houston Mitchell