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Kirk Gibson And Justin Turner Are Cemented In Dodgers History Forever

Oct 15, 2017; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner (10) runs home on a three run home run against the Chicago Cubs in the ninth inning during game two of the 2017 NLCS playoff baseball series at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

Oh what a night!

One of the many extraordinary, incredible things that happened all over social media after Justin Turner’s storybook walk-off Sunday night was the immediate comparisons to the last time a Dodger made postseason history doing something amazingly similar…exactly 29 years ago to the day.

For the most part, common sense dictates that a lot can change in 29 years – many Dodger fans weren’t even born yet, or were too young to remember October 15, 1988 – but in some ways, incredibly, they can stay the same. Despite the world changing in countless ways, the Dodgers are still thrilling fans all over the world.

In the fall of ’88, I had just spent the summer the way many teenage girls spend their summers – hanging out with friends and working – but also watching as many Montreal Expos games as was humanly possible back in the pre-internet, pre-MLB TV days. The Sports Network here in Canada carried the rights to Expos games back then and though I enjoyed as many as I could, as they did every year, they missed the playoffs, and so I watched the playoffs half-heartedly. It was still baseball, after all, but it wasn’t “my team” playing. (It never was back then)

It was however, the “team” of Gord Johnson (aka Dad), the rare lifelong Canadian Dodgers fans. Dad, a year older in October ’88 than I am now, recalls the Gibson HR as being much more dramatic than Turner’s, because it seemed so unlikely. “Eckersley was like Jansen is now – basically invincible. Besides Gibson actually appearing the game at all, him hitting anything against Eckersley was the very last thing I expected.”, he told me today. Oakland had been the better team all season, and Eckersley had been the guy to get them there, so to let Gibson go deep off of him added to the absolute improbability of it all.

29 years later to the day (not coincidentally, 29 has been my favorite number since Tim Wallach started wearing it in 1981), that teenage girl, now 46, in these new and improved MLB TV days, has just spent the summer and the 3 summers before it watching literally every single Dodgers game. Life, through its many twists and turns, has brought me to this place of die-hard, fully immersed Dodgers fan. Times have certainly changed in many regards, but I still love baseball, more emotionally invested than ever. Every game means a lot, but winning this game and heading to Chicago up 2-0 would put “my team” in a place I’d never seen them in before.

[button color=”red” size=”big” alignment=”center” rel=”follow” openin=”newwindow” url=”http://www.dodgersnation.com/dodgers-justin-turner-on-his-walk-off-home-run-in-game-2-of-the-nlcs-kl0292/2017/10/16/”]Dodgers’ Justin Turner On His Walk-off Home Run In Game 2 Of The NLCS[/button]

In 1988, barely able to walk, Gibson had battled in his at-bat and it seemed to go on forever, building the tension and adding to what has become Dodgers folklore. In 2017, most of the drama had been built in the two at-bats previous to Turner’s, specifically the walk drawn by Chris Taylor off of 38-year old non-reliever John Lackey. For thousands of Dodgers fans at the stadium and all over social media, the Taylor at-bat had that same “go on forever” feel to it, adding unprecedented tension as the minutes went by. At one point, Lackey went 2 minutes and 12 seconds between pitches to Taylor. It seemed endless.

The at-bat would go on for very close to 6 minutes, and fans everywhere sweated, paced, hydrated, and practiced deep breathing exercises (Or was that just me?). Once Taylor finally walked after running the count full, and Turner came to the plate, fans everywhere were emotionally spent. The bullpen had been outstanding all night, but if they didn’t score here, who knows what could happen in extras…

Some moments are hard to put into words, especially when they are so shocking and unprecedented in their development. I was fortunate enough to have been at Dodger Stadium on September 25, 2016, and hope to never forget the sight of Charlie Culberson’s 10th inning HR sailing into the Dodgers dugout, and the emotion in the stadium as Vin addressed the crowd and played Wind Beneath My Wings with his wife by his side. Memories of that day, for me, are uniquely special for so many reasons, but as far as the single most exciting hit I’ve seen in my 36 years of watching baseball, that honor now belongs to Turner’s walk-off HR. As the ball sailed into the glove of a season ticket holder wearing an Utley uniform, the hair on my arms stood up and goosebumps covered my body. Normally a fairly subdued person, I screamed so loud there is a pretty good chance I woke the neighbors. The moment was the perfect culmination of the Dodgers efforts as a team this year…so far.

In another 29 years, I hope to tell that story to another generation of Dodgers fans who are experiencing their own postseason drama. I have a feeling that I’ll never forget it.

Like me, Dodger fans across Dodgers Nation will have stories of where they were and who they were with when they watched Game 2 of the NLCS, and/or will also have unique experiences of the Dodgers postseason antics tying generations together. Tell us about yours in the comments!

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Written by Gail Johnson

Biggest Dodgers fan north of the border, living about 3,500 miles from my beloved Boys In Blue, in Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada. I think Dodger Stadium is the happiest place on Earth. I'll catch up on my sleep in the off-season.

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  1. I was in my apartment in Bakersfield, CA with my girlfriend,l studying for my History midterm the next day, i had put my notebook down when i saw 2 outs, in the bottom of the 9th. I had a gut feeling the Dodgers were up to something. When Lackey throw the pitch and Turner connect, i jumped out of my bed and waited for the camera to zoom in on the hit. The ball flew over the fence and i screamed and shouted as Turner was rounding the bases. I immediately called my Dad in L.A (die hard Dodgers fan sine the late 70’s) and we both began to scream. It was an awesome experience to to share with my old man. He’s talked to me about his experience with the Gibson home run and where he was at the time. Now I hope one day, i will get to tell my children where i was and who i was with when Turner hit the 3 run blast. Go Dodgers!!!

  2. I was at work, in a cottage with 20 young residents with developmental disabilities watching the game with Gibson at bat. A Co-worker who was a giants fan told me it’s over, Dodgers are done. I said watch this, when Gibby hit that ball the guy said, no way… I started laughing all the Residents were so excited, laughing n cheering… not because they were life long Dodger fans, but because my co-worker was upset..lol
    Last night watching Turner, hit that walkoff, brought back a great memory from 1988, sport & personal..

  3. 1988. Watching game 1 on TV with a friend. Gibson comes up. I bet my friend Gibson… would not strike out. Didn’t imagine he’d do anything special – that was Eck pitching!

    HR. I go nuts. Literally dance in the street.

    Collect the winnings from the bet.

    I still have that nickle displayed in a coin holder. My Kirk Gibson Nickle.

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Best Social Reactions To Dodgers’ Justin Turner Walk-off Home Run

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