Saturday, July 2, 2011

Youth Baseball: The Link Between Baseball Past and Present

The link between baseball present and baseball past is omnipresent. Chevy used this insight to develop ads with little leaguers recreating famous Major League Baseball moments. The ad features the dramatic home runs by Carlton Fisk, Babe Ruth and Kirk Gibson.

The Kirk Gibson home run was particularly inspiring. This famous moment in baseball history happened in game 1 of the 1988 World Series between the A's and the Dodgers. Kirk Gibson was so hobbled by a swollen right knee and a strained left hamstring that he did not even come out of the club house for the team introductions and national anthem. He spent the entire pre-game and 8 innings of game getting treatment in hopes that he would get into a game later in the series.

Jose Conseco had hit a grand slam early in the game to give the A's a lead. The Dodgers held the A's to those 4 runs and managed to scratch out 3 runs before the 9th inning. The A's sent future hall of famer Dennis Eckersley, who had 45 saves during that year, to save the game. Kirk Gibson got his uniform on and went into the dugout. The Eck got two quick outs but then walked a batter. Kirk Gibson was called on to pinch hit. Gibson limped up to the plate and quickly got in the hole 0-2. And he looked bad doing it. He then hit a weak ground ball that went down the first base line. Kirk struggled down the base path as the ball went foul. He took a lot of time getting back to the batter's box. He then fouled off a few more pitches and took some balls but never looked comfortable. And then it happened, Dennis Eckersley gave Kirk Gibson a pitch he could hit and he served it into the right field bleachers of Dodger's stadium to win the game. As he rounded second base, he pumped his arm three times.

The Main Point

Share baseball history with your baseball playing kids.

Yesterday, my son, Nic, injured his knee while playing second base. He was in obvious pain, but the team only had 9 players so he could not come out of the game. The umpires gave Nic time to walk it off. Nic was able to finish the inning. He hobbled off the field and put ice on his knee which was beginning to swell. 

The team started to rally against one of the best teams in Ohio and Nic's turn to bat approached. As he was taking swings on deck, I yelled out to him, "Go get'em Kirk Gibson." I yelled that for the other dads of my age to hear, knowing that they would understand the reference. I didn't expect my 14 year old son to understand, but my son looked at me and gave me three arm pumps and smiled ear to ear.

Nic got to the plate with 2 on base and the team down 5 runs. He fouled off the first pitch. Then he took a low curve ball that was called a strike. Like, Gibson, he was down 0-2. He fouled off a few more pitches and worked the count to 2-2 just like Gibson. Then the opposing pitcher gave Nic something to hit. He drilled a line drive over the short stop and darted past the left fielder. An easy triple if he were not hurt, but Nic hobbled around the first and just got to second base.

It was not as dramatic as the Kirk Gibson HR, but link between baseball past and present and fathers and sons is dramatic.

Here is the entire 9th inning of the 1988 Game 1 World Series.

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