What the World Was Like the Last Time the Dodgers Won the World Series
It’s been quite some time since we’ve seen the Los Angeles Dodgers in the World Series. The team’s triumphant World Series victory in 1988 over their neighbors to the north, the Oakland Athletics, was punctuated by Kirk Gibson’s iconic pinch-hit home run and Orel Hershizer’s dominant pitching performance in Game 5. Given the fact that the Dodgers have returned to the Fall Classic for the first time since the Reagan Administration, we thought it would be a fun idea to take a look at what things were like back in 1988.
When the Dodgers clinched their sixth World Series on October 20, 1988, the world was a very different place. Amenities that we take for granted such as the Internet were not even invented yet, and devices like personal cell phones were still years away from being used en masse by everyday people. The internet, as we know it today, was not invented until 1989. Tim Berners-Lee, who invented the World Wide Web, only began speaking about the possibility of the invention in 1988 after optical fiber cables were able to connect Princeton, New Jersey and Stockholm, Sweden.
Cell phones, which most people cannot live without today, were extremely expensive and mostly used by the wealthy and those in positions of power–such as fictitious character Gordon Gekko from the movie Wall Street. Commercial cell phones were unwieldy bricks back then and cost a pretty penny to operate as the price per minute to make calls ran close to 45 cents per minute.
Nineteen-eighty-eight itself produced plenty of cultural content that is still referenced in pop culture and enjoyed to this day. While it’s not considered to be one of the best years in cinema history, 1988 saw the release of popular films such as Rain Man, Coming to America, Big, They Live, Child’s Play, Die Hard and My Neighbor Totoro.
In addition to the previously listed movies, 1988 saw plenty of memorable music released as bands such as U2, Bon Jovi, Price, Guns N’ Roses, Sonic Youth, Pixies, Travelling Willburys, N.W.A, and R.E.M all released albums. Popular singles from the year included George Michael’s “Faith,” Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up,” Guns N’ Roses “Sweet Child o’ Mine,” Robert Palmer’s “Simply Irresistible,” and Def Leppard’s “Pour Some Sugar On Me.”
At the tail end of 1988, the United States was once again buzzing due to its upcoming presidential election. After eight years of Ronald Reagan behind the desk in the oval office, the Americans watched live debates and headed to the polls to choose between Vice President George H. W. Bush and Massachusetts governor Michael Dukakis. The election was a runaway for Bush, who won with 426 Electoral College votes. Interestingly enough, we had a father and son duo both become President of the U.S. in-between Dodgers World Series appearances as George H.W. Bush’s son, George W. Bush was elected to the presidency in 2000.
Baseball itself looks quite a bit different nowadays than from how it was in the late eighties. Four teams were added to the league – The Tampa Bay Devil Rays, Arizona Diamondbacks, Florida Marlins and the Colorado Rockies. All four of these teams have made the World Series in their years since joining the league.
Another significant overhaul that came to Major League Baseball was the invention of the Wild Card, which has since been expanded. In 1988, only two teams made the playoffs from each league, which were the two division winners. When the Rockies and Marlins were added to the league in 1993, Commissioner Bud Selig modified the leagues so that they have three divisions and introduced a “wild card” system in which the team with the best record who did not win their division made the playoffs.
For a bit of perspective, it’s particularly interesting to take a look at both the Astros and Dodgers rosters for this current series. Only 27 out of the 50 active roster players in this series were even alive for the 1988 World Series. As a frame of reference, 22-year-old Dodgers slugger and second-generation player Cody Bellinger’s father Clay Bellinger was still 11 years away from making his professional debut the last time the Dodgers were in the World Series.
One thread intertwines the 1988 and 2017 World Series–Dodger’s pitching coach Rick Honeycutt. Honeycutt pitched for the Oakland Athletics in the 1988 World Series, and is participating in this year’s series as a coach. The Dodgers pitching coach won Game 2 of the ’88 World Series and pitched 3.1 scoreless innings of relief for the Athletics.
(Image courtesy John Liu via Flickr.)