Davis: The search for Kirk Gibson’s home run ball … and a family tragedy

From David Davis at SB Nation on June 20, 2013:

Kirk Gibson is sitting in the visitors’ dugout two hours before game time. The Arizona Diamondbacks manager is watching his players stretch and take batting practice before they meet the Dodgers in an early-season divisional match-up.

It’s disconcerting to see Gibson in Dodger Stadium wearing road gray and red. He will forever be a hero in Los Angeles because of one indelible moment in one impossible season. In 1988, Gibson carried an undermanned Dodgers team to the NL pennant, past the heavily favored Mets, and into the World Series against the even more heavily favored Oakland A’s.

The effort had so physically punished Gibson’s legs that he could not walk out onto the field for the player introductions before Game 1 of the Series. He was not in the starting lineup; it was unclear whether he would be able to play at all.

Somehow, Gibson summoned the strength to pinch-hit with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning, the Dodgers trailing by one run. He hobbled to the plate and looked terribly off-balance early in the count, squibbing weak foul balls against Dennis Eckersley, the best closer in baseball.

Then came Eckersley’s 3-2 offering — and instant immortality.


I’ve arranged to interview Gibson because I’m trying to figure out what happened to the home run ball after it disappeared into the scrum in right field. Gibson himself never saw the ball again, and no fan came forward that evening, or the next day, claiming to have recovered it.

It is gone, permanently.

But this quest, I’m beginning to realize, is also personal. I had tickets to the very section where Gibson deposited his homer, but I didn’t attend the game. I can recall exactly where I was when he hit it out — which might explain why, 25 years later, I am trying to locate a ball that will never be found.

Read the full article here: http://www.sbnation.com/longform/2013/6/20/4445100/kirk-gibson-world-series-home-run-ball-search

Originally published: June 20, 2013. Last Updated: June 20, 2013.