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DESTINY'S BOYS
Steve Wulf
October 31, 1988
L.A. miraculously beat Oakland in the World Series
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October 31, 1988

Destiny's Boys

L.A. miraculously beat Oakland in the World Series

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HERSHISER. Two of the victories were his, and his alone: the three-hit shutout in Game 2 and the four-hit clincher in Game 5. His mastery of the A's and his surprising skill as a batsman are what made Hershiser the Series MVP (see box on page 36), but he helped the Dodgers in little ways as well. After Howell gave up the ninth-inning homer to McGwire in Game 3, Hershiser went onto the field and met Howell near the first base line. Hershiser wasn't merely consoling Howell. "I went out and asked him if he'd made a good pitch," said Hershiser. "At times like those, it doesn't do you any good to hang your head and get upset. If you get beat, you should learn something from it. If it was your best pitch, well, you gave it your best shot. If it wasn't, you shouldn't throw it again." The next night, Howell twice faced down the heart of the A's order to preserve the Dodgers' 4-3 victory.

Walking through Oakland's only clubhouse celebration of the Series was the A's Mr. October himself, Reggie Jackson. He congratulated the much-relieved A's, but he sounded an ominous note when he said that his former team had to win the next night's game. " Orel Hershiser goes in Game 5, and Orel Hershiser is the real thing," said Jackson. "He's 24 carat. He's 99 and 44/100 percent pure. He's Ivory Snow. He's Post Toasties. He's a rainy day for the other team. Hell, he's a smog alert."

Hershiser is known as Bulldog, and during the Series, his father, Orel Leonard Hershiser III, distributed stuffed bulldogs and bulldog pins to the other Dodgers. The trinkets had been sent by Mack Truck, which uses the bulldog as its symbol, and it came to be the Dodgers' symbol as well. Years and years ago. after John McGraw said that Connie Mack's expensive Philadelphia Athletics were mere "white elephants," the white elephant became the symbol of the A's. The cartoon image that emerges from this Series is of a herd of stampeding white elephants with bulldogs nipping at their feet.

GIBSON. His epic homer won Game 1, but Gibson really set things in motion in March when pitcher Jesse Orosco smeared eye black inside Gibson's hat. When Gibson discovered the practical joke, he stormed off the field. "No wonder this team finished fourth last season," said Gibson, and the other Dodgers got the message. "He made it cool to care about winning," says Hershiser. "He made it cool to be aggressive and to hustle and work hard."

So even though Gibson made his first and last appearance with two outs in the bottom of the ninth in Game 1, his presence was always felt.

LASORDA. He's full of prosciutto, but Lasorda did a superb job of both micro-and macromanaging. In the 4-3 victory in Game 4 he tried four hit-and-runs. The first one precipitated a two-run rally in the first, and the last, in the seventh, kept L.A. out of a double play and allowed its fourth run to score. In the fourth inning of the clinching victory Lasorda gave the green light on 3 and 0 to Davis, who had two homers and a .196 average in the regular season, and Davis responded with a two-run homer that gave Hershiser a 4-1 lead. Lasorda stayed one step ahead of La Russa during the entire Series, even though La Russa had a much more talented roster at his disposal.

As for the bigger picture, Lasorda kept his troops loose and confident, even though everyone else knew they had no business being in the Series. Some of his motivational techniques were childish—example: exploiting Costas's innocent remark about the Los Angeles lineup to the point that the Dodgers were chanting "Kill Costas!" in the clubhouse—but they worked, not so much on L.A. as on Oakland. La Russa was so obsessed with the emotional edge the Dodgers had that he showed uncharacteristic emotion himself, hollering at his team in the dugout, for example, during Game 3. Speaking of hollering, Lasorda wandered through the Los Angeles clubhouse after Game 4, yelling something about "the fruits of victory." One Dodger yelled back, "Why does it always have to be food with you. Tommy?"

With each injury to the patients of Jobe—team physician Dr. Frank Jobe—the Dodgers seemed to gain strength. First there was Gibson's right knee, severely sprained in Game 7 of the playoffs. Then there were the recurring ills of pitcher John Tudor's left elbow and outfielder Mike Marshall's back. Then catcher Mike Scioscia twisted his right knee sliding into second in Game 4. Lasorda never panicked, not even when the team he put on the field included Jose Gonzalez (.083 for the regular season), Franklin Stubbs (.223), Jeff Hamilton (.236), Alfredo Griffin (.199) and Davis. The last injury of the Series was suffered by Lasorda. At the presentation ceremonies he cut his forehead on one of the metal flags on the World Series trophy.

"He certainly did the finest job of managing I've seen," said Amalfitano. "You know, when you guys do those player-by-player matchups, you don't really think about the impact the managers have on a team. That was a big difference in this Series."

THE SCOUTS. At one point during the clubhouse celebration Scioscia went up to a nattily attired gentleman and said, "We couldn't have done it without you guys. Your reports were great." And the gentleman, Steve Boros, told Scioscia, "I could count the mistakes we made in the entire Series on one hand."

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