5 of Baseball's Most Dramatic Upsets


1988 World Series, Los Angeles Dodgers over Oakland A's

Perhaps more than any other playoff series in the modern era, the 1988 World Series is remembered with one iconic image: MVP Kirk Gibson hitting the winning home run and limping around the bases. Morrison had injured both of his legs during the National League Championship Series against the Mets, and he wasn't expected to play in the series. But in the bottom of the 9th inning, he told manager Tommy Lasorda that he was available to pinch hit, and a few minutes later he sent a 3-2 slider from Oakland A's closer Dennis Eckersley over the right field wall [source: Weinburg].

Gibson's walk-off home run set the tone for one of the most improbable upsets in baseball history. Going into the series, the A's were a heavy favorite. Oakland's lineup featured the so-called "Bash Brothers," Mark McGwire and José Canseco, who were two of the more feared homerun hitters in baseball, and the team's pitchers were the finest in the American League. In comparison, the Dodgers looked weak heading into the series. In fact, on the air, NBC broadcaster Bob Costas even went as far as to call the Dodgers' Game 4 lineup one of the weakest in World Series history -- and yet they still pulled off the win [source: Wulf].

Outmatched though they did seem, the Dodgers reveled in their underdog status -- Lasorda reportedly reminded his players of David and Goliath throughout the series. On the field, Gibson wasn't the only Dodger to step up; Cy Young-award-winning pitcher Orel Hershiser started two of the five games, pitching complete games in both and allowing a total of just seven hits and two runs.