|1988 Los Angeles Dodgers|
|1988 World Series Champions|
National League Champions
NL West Champions
|Major League affiliations|
|General manager(s)||Fred Claire|
|Local television||KTTV (11)|
Vin Scully, Ross Porter, Don Drysdale
Rick Monday, Tony Hernandez
Vin Scully, Ross Porter, Don Drysdale
Jaime Jarrín, René Cárdenas
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The 1988 season was a memorable one for the Dodgers as a squad that was picked to finish fourth wound up winning the World Series, beating the heavily favored New York Mets and Oakland Athletics on the way. Kirk Gibson carried the Dodger offense, winning the National League Most Valuable Player Award. Orel Hershiser dominated on the mound, throwing a record 59 consecutive scoreless innings on his way to winning the Cy Young Award.
With the sub-par 1987 performance fresh in their minds, General Manager Fred Claire and Field Manager Tom Lasorda knew what needed to be fixed. They started the off-season by allowing poor performers such as Glenn Hoffman, Ken Landreaux and Phil Garner explore the free agent market. On December 11, 1987, Claire pulled the trigger on a trade that helped solidify the Dodgers' defense and bullpen, despite giving up one of the top pitchers of the National League in 1987 in Bob Welch. The Dodgers acquired shortstop Alfredo Griffin and relief pitchers Jay Howell and Jesse Orosco in a three-team trade ironically with the Athletics and Mets, the two teams they would eventually defeat in the '88 postseason. In an attempt to boost the offense for the upcoming season, the Dodgers signed Mike Davis on December 15, 1987. The biggest move of the off-season was still to come.
On January 29, 1988, the Dodgers signed free agent slugger Kirk Gibson from the Detroit Tigers. Gibson, who was a 9 year veteran at the time of the signing, was known for his power at the plate and speed on the basepaths, but was also brought in to be a clubhouse leader. To help solidify their roster the Dodgers went on to sign 21-year veteran pitcher Don Sutton and 20-year veteran catcher Rick Dempsey. Dempsey, known for his fiery personality, joined Gibson as the veteran clubhouse leaders.
It was Gibson, however, who would make the biggest impact. Some spring training instances brought this out, as follows:
-One day, newly acquired shortstop Alfredo Griffin was pitching batting practice and was lobbing his pitches to the plate, presenting no challenge to the hitters, at least on the pitches he got over the plate. A frustrated Gibson yelled, "Why the (expletive) do we take batting practice if we aren't getting anything out of it?"
-Preparing for his first spring training game as a Dodger, Gibson began his pregame warm-ups in the outfield. Taking off his hat to wipe sweat from his head, Gibson noticed people laughing. He soon realized that someone had greased the inside of his cap with eyeblack and he had unknowingly wiped it all over himself. He immediately took off for the visitors' clubhouse, warning manager Tommy Lasorda on the way, "Tommy, you find out (expletive) did this, because I'm going to tear his head off!" Lasorda tried to smooth things over, and culprit Jesse Orosco eventually tried to apologize, but to no avail.
-Finally, the Dodgers used to play a game called "flinch", where a person would fake throwing a punch at another and, if the other person flinched, the one who faked the blow would get to punch the other in the chest. Orel Hershiser tried this with Gibson, and Gibson responded by shoving Hershiser with his forearm ("forearm shiver") and telling him sternly, "I don't play 'Flinch'!"
All of the above instances served notice that Gibson came to the Dodgers to win, and if Gibson was going to be serious about it, all the other players had better be, too.
Key player from the 1987 team were also brought back. These players included right fielder Mike Marshall, center fielder John Shelby, catcher Mike Scioscia, Second Baseman Steve Sax, Utilityman Mickey Hatcher, and pitchers Orel Hershiser, Fernando Valenzuela, and Tim Leary.
|Los Angeles Dodgers||94||67||0.584||--||45-36||49-31|
|San Diego Padres||83||78||0.516||11||47-34||36-44|
|San Francisco Giants||83||79||0.512||11½||45-36||38-43|
1988 National League Records
Sources:            
|Opening Day Starters|
|Steve Sax||Second baseman|
|Kirk Gibson||Left fielder|
|Pedro Guerrero||Third baseman|
|Mike Marshall||First baseman|
|John Shelby||Center fielder|
|Mike Davis||Right fielder|
|Fernando Valenzuela||Starting pitcher|
The Dodgers started the 1988 season at home against the San Francisco Giants. The Dodgers opening day pitcher was Valenzuela. The opening day lineup featured Sax, Griffin, Gibson, Marshall, Shelby, Davis, Scioscia and Third Baseman Pedro Guerrero. The first pitch of the season, to Sax by Giants pitcher Dave Dravecky, was hit into the Left Field seats at Dodger Stadium. However, Valenzuela would then give up the lead and the Dodgers would eventually lose the game 5-1. The team would go on to win their next five games and finish April with a 13-7 record which included a four-game sweep of the Atlanta Braves. Hershiser finished the month of April with a 5-0 record.
The Dodgers went 14-13 during the month of May. As it had always been, May was one of the toughest months for the Dodgers. On May 21, 1988, Griffin was hit by a pitch from Mets pitcher Dwight Gooden on the hand. Griffin would miss over two months with a broken hand. This heated up the Dodger-Met rivalry which would last the remainder of the season. In fact, the next day, May 22, 1988, Mets starting pitcher David Cone hit Pedro Guerrero in the head in the 6th inning. As a show of disgust at what the Dodgers felt was headhunting by the Mets pitchers, Guerrero proceeded to stand up, throw his bat in Cone's direction and charge the mound. A benches clearing mêlée ensued and Guerrero and Lasorda were ejected from the game. Because Griffin had to be placed on the disabled list with a broken hand the Dodgers were left with a hole at shortstop, though they had a solid replacement in the form of veteran Dave Anderson. At times during May, the lead over the Astros neared five games. By the end of the month the Dodgers' lead in the NL West Division was only a half of a game over the Houston Astros.
The Dodgers had a solid month of June compiling a record of 17-9 over the month. Hershiser continued his successful year by finishing the month of June with a record of 12-3. Much of the Dodgers' success to this point in the season could be attributed to solid starting pitching from Hershiser, Leary and the emerging rookie Tim Belcher. However, the best pitchers of the Dodgers' pitching staff were those who came out of the bullpen. Orosco, Howell, Brian Holton and Alejandro Peña were all enjoying successful seasons. After a slow start in April, Gibson was now hitting .288 with 15 HR's, 40 RBI, 53 runs scored and 15 SB's.
The summer success continued for the Dodgers as they completed August with a 17-12 record. Don Sutton was released August 10 after GM Fred Claire discovered Sutton had informally discussed a possible front office job with the Houston Astros. Sutton was 3-6 with a 3.92 ERA at the time. Sutton did not sign with another team. His 233 career wins with the Dodgers remains the team record.
Many[who?] who have followed the Dodgers have pointed to a few moments during the months of July and August that got the season going in the right direction, keep the successes going and exemplified what the 1988 Dodgers were all about.
Hershiser would begin a scoreless inning streak in September that he would eventually take to over 59 innings and pass Dodger legend Don Drysdale for the record for most consecutive scoreless innings. Hershiser would throw complete game shutouts against the Braves on September 5, the Reds on September 10, the Braves again on September 14, the Astros on September 19 and the Giants on September 23 to take him within 9 innings of Drysdale's record. Before Hershiser would get a chance to break the record the Dodgers needed to clinch the National League West Championship. Their chance came in San Diego on September 26. The San Diego Padres would take a 2-0 lead in the first inning. But the Dodgers would get 3 runs back and win the game 3-2, clinching the division. Hershiser would get his next start on September 28 and he would pitch 10 scoreless innings against the Padres to break Drysdale's record.
Note: Pos = Position; G = Games played; AB = At Bats; H = Hits; Avg. = Batting Average; HR = Home Runs; RBI = Runs Batted In
Note: G = Games played; AB = At Bats; H = Hits; Avg. = Batting Average; HR = Home Runs; RBI = Runs Batted In
The Dodgers faced the New York Mets in the LCS. The Mets had dominated the Dodgers during the regular season, winning 10 out of 11 meetings and were heavy favorites going into the series. But the Dodgers, led by series MVP Orel Hershiser (who pitched a complete game shutout in game 7) won the series 4 games to 3.
The Dodgers were again heavy underdogs in the World Series against the Oakland Athletics, led by sluggers Mark McGwire and José Canseco. However, the Dodgers won the series in five games thanks to Kirk Gibson's pinch-hit game winning homer in the first game off of Dennis Eckersley and the continued mastery of series MVP Orel Hershiser.
|AAA||Albuquerque Dukes||Pacific Coast League||Terry Collins|
|AA||San Antonio Missions||Texas League||Kevin Kennedy|
|High A||Bakersfield Dodgers||California League||Gary LaRocque|
|High A||Vero Beach Dodgers||Florida State League||John Shoemaker|
|A-Short Season||Salem Dodgers||Northwest League||Tom Beyers|
|Rookie||Great Falls Dodgers||Pioneer League||Tim Johnson|
|Rookie||Gulf Coast Dodgers||Gulf Coast League||Joe Alvarez|
Teams in BOLD won League Championships
The Dodgers drafted 62 players in this draft. Of those, 11 of them would eventually play Major League baseball. The Dodgers lost their second round pick to the Oakland Athletics as compensation for their signing free agent outfielder Mike Davis.
The top pick in the draft was Pitcher Bill Bene out of California State University, Los Angeles. In nine seasons in the Minors he had a record of 18-34 with a 5.45 ERA in 252 games (49 starts). In 2012, he was arrested and sentenced to six months in prison for operating a counterfeit karaoke business and failing to pay federal taxes.
This draft produced two of the Dodgers top players of the 1990s. In the sixth round they selected first baseman Eric Karros from UCLA. The 1992 Rookie of the Year and a 1995 Silver Slugger Award winner, Karros hit .268 with 284 homers and 1,027 RBI in 14 seasons (12 of them with the Dodgers) and is the L.A. Dodgers all-time home run leader.
In the 62nd round with their last pick of the draft the Dodgers selected Mike Piazza from Miami Dade College as a favor to his god-father, manager Tommy Lasorda. Piazza would win the 1993 Rookie of the Year Award and was a 12 time All-Star and 10 time Silver Slugger Award winner in his 16 seasons (mostly with the Dodgers and New York Mets). He hit .308 with 427 home runs and 1,335 RBI.