Hatcher was unsung hero of 1988 title team

September 18th, 2018

LOS ANGELES -- Mickey Hatcher was traded by the Dodgers in March of 1981, the year the Dodgers went on to win the World Series without him. He was released by the Twins in March of 1987, the year the Twins went on to win the World Series without him.

So, the 1988 World Series ring Hatcher wears not only represents his unexpected contributions to the most recent Dodgers championship, but the fact that he was even there at all.

"I look back at me and my wife sitting in our living room last year, looking at the World Series and how we cried because we hoped we would get that opportunity and because we knew all our friends with Minnesota had had it," Hatcher said moments after the Dodgers beat the A's in the 1988 World Series.

Each team's most unlikely postseason heroes

That edition of the Fall Classic is historic because of Kirk Gibson's epic home run and Orel Hershiser's super-heroic pitching. But beating the A's might not have happened without Hatcher, captain of "The Stuntmen" reserve squad, who was thrust into a leading-man role as Gibson's replacement and went on to be the Most Valuable Player of the World Series.

What's that you say? The World Series MVP Award went to Orel Hershiser? Not so funny how that turned out. Votes were cast in the press box by a selected committee. Votes were tallied. In the postgame clubhouse chaos, Hatcher was called over to the NBC set to accept an MVP trophy … that instead was awarded to Hershiser.

To this day there's been no credible explanation for what happened, and the same can be said for the outcome of the series, especially the part where Hatcher, who hit one home run in the regular season of 1988, hit as many home runs in that World Series as A's bash brothers Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire combined.

Hatcher went 7-for-19 (.368) with homers in Game 1 off former teammate Dave Stewart and the clinching Game 5 against Storm Davis, with five RBIs and five runs scored, leading the club in each category. He and Steve Sax were the only players with a base hit in each of the five games. Hatcher hit safely in the club's last eight postseason games and hit .300 that postseason.

Talk about stepping up. He was only replacing Gibson in the lineup. The reason Gibson's Game 1 walk off into immortality was so, well, historic is that he couldn't walk, let alone play. Hatcher was called on to replace the guy who hit the most incredible home run in Dodgers World Series history.

"Mickey exemplifies what this team is all about," Gibson said that night. "This team believed in itself. I got hurt and the team accepted that I would be out. And Mickey steps in and fills my role and I filled his. We had a team approach that kept us together. We always gave it an honest effort."

After missing out on two World Series rings, Hatcher actually won a second as a hitting coach with the 2002 Angels in a post-playing career that included nearly a decade as a Dodgers Minor League coach and manager. Today, the 63-year-old Hatcher is a member of the Dodgers' community relations speakers bureau.