On Kirk Gibson’s pinch-hit home run in the Dodgers World Series Win
I’m sitting with Gibby. He gets so mad that he can’t pinch hit, he calls the clubhouse guy Mitch Poole. He gets two huge ice bags, he takes his pants down with his underwear and he’s sitting on these ice bags to numb his hamstrings to see if he can stand to see if he can hit. He gets them all numbed up for that half inning with the anger he’s not going to be able to do it. Tells Mitch to go get his uniform. In the TV room I’m watching him put his uniform on. He goes down the hall with Mitch and I, and he’s putting a ball on a tee to see if he can take practice swings and hit and stand up. He was adjusting his swing and stance the whole time.
After the first couple balls he could barely pick up the ball to put on the tee, so I started doing that for him. All of a sudden he says he could hit, so he sends Mitch downstairs to Tommy Lasorda on the dugout. Mitch won’t go because he’s nervous, Gibby says ‘You go do it’. So he goes down and tells him. I go down and sit next to Mike Scioscia, and I say ‘If the inning continues, you know who’s going to hit?’ I go ‘Gibby’s going to hit’ and he says ‘Gibby can’t even walk!’ I said he’s been numbing his hamstrings for about half an hour and he’s going to hit. The inning progresses, he can’t even walk, he looks like a newborn deer. He fouls a ball off, looks like the game’s going to be over. We steal second with Mike Davis. Now everybody on the bench is just rooting for a bloop single. We’ve seen our possible MVP hobble up to the plate, barely swing a bat and barely fall over while taking his swing. The count goes to 3-2, in the report from our scout Mel Didier, he said if you’re a left handed hitter and you get to a 3-2 count, you’re going to get a backdoor slider from Dennis Eckersley. It’s about to happen, Gibson steps out of the box, adjusts his helmet and remembers the scouting report, commits to a 3-2 slider, and hits the home run, on a 3-2 slider.
Celebrating the Home Run in the Dodgers’ Victory
If you see the replay, you’ll see me jumping like a little boy. They’ve got the camera on the third base line watching Gibson round third after the double fist pump. As he’s rounding third, it’s a tight center field shot, and you see him running towards us, and you see me running. We’re all at home plate patting him on the back going crazy, he’s like ‘You guys are killing me stop putting wait on my legs!’ He then looks like he’s running away from his team, and he is. Tommy then bear hugs him.
On Dodgers losing to Astros in 2017 World Series
I don’t think we lost it in game seven. I thought game two and game five. Even the players where the focus would come on, and they have, they’ll come clean. I lost the ‘97 World Series for the Cleveland Indians. I had a terrible outing. I gave up three home runs and we lost that game. We lost in game seven in extra innings to the Marlins. Every guy on our team could pick a moment in that World Series and said, we should have won back here. It comes down to that focus and nugget at the end, but everybody is reviewing the tape of where they could have not made it to game seven, and in game seven what they could have done differently.
What’s it like to play in the World Series
If you’re a baseball fan, you’re either playing with your brother or sister or your good friend, and you’re thinking 3-2, game seven of the World Series, bases loaded, you’re either the pitcher or the hitter, and you play that over and over again until you succeed and go ‘I can do this’. I allowed myself, for a very short time, to stop and walk around the mound, and look. I wish it would have been Dodger Stadium, but in Oakland it was a little different. It was the same to look around and see my teammates. I could not allow that thought to keep going, because I would have started to crack up on the mound. It just starts welling up, and that’s the stuff you’ve blocked back.
You block back all the result and think about execution. That’s where champions live. I think champions live in feeling nerves, pressure, feeling arrogant and confident. Champions find a way to channel it towards execution. I pre-played a lot of that throughout my life. When I failed in those instances, I thought about breaking it down and going ‘where was the failure?’ It always came down to a distraction or a fear. I said, when that’s coming next time, how are you going to deal with it. I had to create energy. What’s really next, is the rest of life, and what you’re going to do with it.
Being released by Tommy Lasorda and the Dodgers
That’s a tear jerking story. I’m brutal, I’m giving up like eight runs, Dodgers fans probably know I’m done. They’re giving me a standing ovation. I’m sitting on the bench, with my head against the wall, and I’m thinking this isn’t going any further. I get up after the inning is over and go down into the tunnel. Tommy is there to meet me. He walks me back into the training room. He and I alone start balling, and says ‘Bulldog this is it’. I said you’re right. The hard part is when you guys hand me a baseball, I could start crying. I put my life into that thing.
Relationship with Tommy Lasorda and Vin Scully
Vinny was distant, as far as player/icon relationship in my day. You did reach a certain point where it was okay to go sit next to him. It’s just wisdom after wisdom coming out. Most of what I learned was a little bit in those conversations. What I learned most was remembering those conversations and then watching his actions. There’s so much integrity to who he is. The brand of Vin Scully, the role model of how to act if you’re a Dodger is Vin Scully. Tommy Lasorda was my baseball father. It didn’t stop with just managing. It was anytime you were around him. On the other side of that part, Tommy changed a room when he walked in. I never thought or wanted to be that, but I thought that’s what I need to try and be at times because that’s what people are expecting. Before Vinny and Tommy it started with my parents. You don’t turn out to be who you are, if you don’t listen to your mentors and the wise people around you as you’re coming up. I’m coming full circle. I’m not working with Vinny, but I think I’m working with the next guy that’s going to be really close. It’s an honor to come full circle. Now the Dodgers have put me in uniform in spring training so I can work with the pitchers. Those six weeks are heaven for me.
How he started scouting players
As the game progressed, I asked Tommy Lasorda if I can watch the game in the television room that we had, which was an 8×10 closet at the time, it wasn’t as sophisticated as it is now. I had to ask Fred Claire, who was our general manager, if I could get some money to get a couple of 24 inch screens with VCR’s on the top and if we could get a satellite dish at the top of Dodger Stadium. I did the research, can we start getting broadcasts from opposing teams. If the game on Wednesday is on in Pittsburgh and I’m going to play the Pirates on the next road trip, can we tape the game and get it down here so I can watch that film. This was like cutting edge.
Why he fist bumped players
In our day, high-five, right? That infield of mine, when they went to the bathroom in between innings, they didn’t wash their hands. So I started fist bumping them. I was a finger licker on the mound. If you’re a licker on the mound, and you fake wipe, to get a little moisture on the ball, and you start noticing that Mike Marshall and Steve Sax and everybody else is not washing their hands, I started fist bumping.
Orel is now most well known for being part of the Dodgers broadcast team. sitting alongside Joe Davis most games. What a guy.
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