Lots to catch up on from the past few weeks, but there’s one story that really struck me and it’s one that will resonate to the core of every longtime Dodger fan: Kirk Gibson is selling the bat, jersey, helmet and other memorabilia from the hit the miraculous game-winning home run during Game 1 if the 1988 World Series vs. the Oakland A’s.
Wow. To me, this is a curious move by Gibson. First off, why now? We just celebrated the 22-year anniversary of Gibson’s historic home run last week, and there was no murmur of a sale. Gibson was also just named manager of the Arizona Diamondbacks, so presumably money isn’t an issue. He’s also selling his World Series trophy and MVP award, with proceeds from these items going to charity, but he has not said where the proceeds raised from the sale of the other items are going. The whole thing is just…odd.
But regardless of Gibson’s motives, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity for some of the most iconic items from recent Dodger lore to end up in their rightful home: Dodger Stadium. It’s hard for me to stomach that a private collector is going to own these significant pieces of Los Angeles baseball memorabilia and have them tucked away in the privacy of their home. Home run balls are one thing. Those belong to the fans, and I’m fine with them being auctioned off. But this just seems wrong.
In Los Angeles, Gibson’s items are the equivalent of communal property. They belong to Dodger fans. They are the physical representation of the last truly great moment in Dodger history, and by their own existence, give the promise of hope that no matter what the odds, a team can come together and overcome whatever obstacles are put in front of them.
The always eloquent Dodgers historian Mark Langill put it best (as relayed by Bill Plaschke): “It’s King Arthur’s sword.”
Remember the immortal words of Vin Scully from that night: “In a year that has been so improbable, the impossible has happened!”
Isn’t that what we hope and root for each and every spring? Isn’t that what we as Dodger fans are asked to believe in when the Dodgers ask us to buy tickets? Unfortunately, the Dodgers have said that they will not be bidding on these items, and that’s a real shame.
Again, per Bill Plashke: “We would always welcome the opportunity to talk directly with Kirk about keeping these historic items in the Dodger family,” team spokesman Josh Rawitch said.
The most symbolic way for the Dodgers to give fans hope for the future is by acquiring these items and putting them on public display. To not even make a public attempt is more than just a missed opportunity. It’s just sad.
So for now, I’m forced to hope that some of this city’s business leaders and/or most civic-minded philanthropists will step up and do what’s right for Dodger fans everywhere: purchase these three items and return them to Dodger Stadium.
I’d like to believe once again that when something seems improbable, the impossible can indeed happen.
Photo Credit: Heinz Kluetmeier/SI