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Dennis Eckersley threw out Game 4’s first pitch to Kirk Gibson

Dennis Eckersley threw the ceremonial first pitch of Game 4 of the World Series to Kirk Gibson.Jim Davis/Globe staff

An average athlete might not return to the scene of one of his worst career moments, but Dennis Eckersley has never been average. The Hall of Fame pitcher – who played for the Red Sox in two stints over his 24-year career, and works as a commentator on NESN – was on the wrong end of an iconic baseball moment: Kirk Gibson’s game-winning, pinch-hit home run in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series.

In the ninth inning, with Eckersley on the mound to close out the game for the Athletics, a hobbled Gibson came to the plate and smashed a home run to give the Dodgers a 5-4 win. They would go on to win the World Series, 4-1.


The two players – Eckersley and Gibson – have stayed connected not just in baseball history, but in friendship.

It was on display before Game 4 of this year’s World Series, as a smiling Eckersley threw out the ceremonial first pitch to Gibson.

“Thraw me that 3-2 backdoor slider,” Gibson told Eckersley before, referencing the pitch he hit for a home run.

Stan Grossfeld/Globe Staff

Hayden Bird can be reached at hayden.bird@globe.com. Follow him on twitter at @haydenhbird.