LOS ANGELES -- The only way the Dodgers can truly re-create the magic of winning the World Series 29 years ago is simply to win it again this time around. But even if it's only symbolic, it didn't hurt to have two of the key figures from that 1988 championship
LOS ANGELES -- The only way the Dodgers can truly re-create the magic of winning the World Series 29 years ago is simply to win it again this time around. But even if it's only symbolic, it didn't hurt to have two of the key figures from that 1988 championship team present at Chavez Ravine on Tuesday for Game 6, which saw the Dodgers beat the Astros, 3-1, to even the Series and force a Game 7.
Even with nearly three decades having passed, the circumstances surrounding the '88 World Series are still a fresh memory for many Dodgers faithful. Kirk Gibson's improbable home run off Dennis Eckersley in Game 1 is the highlight that reappears more than any other even today, but arguably, it was the steady hand of the eventual Most Valuable Player -- Orel Hershiser -- that played the biggest role in the Dodgers winning it all in five games.
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Hershiser and Tommy Lasorda, the manager of that team and of many Dodgers contenders over two decades, are regular fixtures at games. Hershiser is an analyst on Dodgers broadcasts, and Lasorda has been an ambassador for the team since retiring as manager 21 years ago.
But there's something special about giving the fans a chance to salute their heroes prior to a postseason game. Hershiser and Lasorda, wearing Dodgers jerseys, were given that honor before Game 6, throwing out ceremonial first pitches to kick off Los Angeles' third home game of the Fall Classic.
Hershiser, noting the loyalty of the fan base, was hoping, for obvious reasons, for the World Series to stretch to seven games.
"Sentimentally, on both sides, there are reasons you want them to win," Hershisher said. "But I think this city deserves it. This fan base has set all kinds of records, always leading all of baseball in attendance. They deserve it because of all the support they've given the Dodgers and Major League Baseball."
Hershiser, nicknamed "Bulldog" by Lasorda, led the National League in wins (23), innings (267), shutouts (eight) and complete games (15) in 1988. He was third in ERA, at 2.26, and finished the season with a record 59 consecutive scoreless innings pitched, breaking the mark of 58, held by former Dodger Don Drysdale.
Hershiser was named the MVP of both the NL Championship Series and World Series after pitching a shutout in the pennant clincher against the Mets, a shutout against the Athletics in Game 2 of the World Series and allowing two runs in a complete-game effort in the Game 5 clincher.
He is the only player to receive the Cy Young Award, Championship Series MVP Award and World Series MVP Award in the same season.
The ceremonial first pitches were caught by two Dodgers ballgirls, Amy Moore and Christina Zambrana, who attended the concert in Las Vegas that ended with the mass shooting that claimed dozens of lives.
The star power of the pregame ceremony extended beyond the first pitches. Ron Cey, who played in four postseasons with the Dodgers, delivered the game ball, along with Garnet King Jr. of the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, and actor Courtney B. Vance, an alumnus of the Boy & Girls Clubs of America.
The nation's colors were delivered by a combination of the five branches of the U.S. armed forces, and the anthem was performed by Rosiland Curry, of the Los Angeles Police Department.
The ceremony also included a solemn moment when the public-address announcer asked for a moment of silence for the lives lost during the tragedy in New York City earlier on Tuesday.
The pregame ceremony concluded with legendary Los Angeles Laker Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and actors Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher waving Dodger flags while standing atop the dugouts.
Alyson Footer is a national correspondent for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @alysonfooter.