We’ve all seen athletes step up to the moment and walk right into history. Larry Bird’s steal against Detroit was phenomenal. Charlotte Smith’s shot to give UNC the women’s basketball title in 1994 is still amazing and of course there’s Christian Laettner’s shot against Kentucky. Tom Brady has a collection of these plays all to himself.
Baseball is different though. In the World Series, the pressure builds throughout the game and ultimately it’s one guy standing there waiting to try to get a hit. His team might have two outs and he might have two strikes. There is no pressure quite like that in other sports.
Perhaps the greatest moment in the last few decades came in the 1988 World Series.
The Dodgers were playing Oakland and their star, Kirk Gibson, had injuries to both legs and was not expected to play. He took treatment during the game though and was available to pinch hit.
Oakland closer Dennis Eckersley had the count at 3-2 with two outs in the ninth and was one strike away from closing the Dodgers out.
But Gibson knew he was going to go with a backdoor slider and he was ready. He connected, hitting almost entirely with upper body strength due to his injuries and the ball soared into the right field stands, securing the win for L.A.
The image of Gibson, who could barely walk, limping around the bases and pumping his fist, is one of the iconic images in the history not just of baseball but of American sports.
Video bonus: Vin Scully calls the game.