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What: "Bottom of the Ninth" by Kirk Gibson with Lynn Henning

Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press. Price: $35

"Eckersley got set, and here it came, just as promised--the backdoor slider. I stepped into it, and I'm not sure a human being alive has experienced the feeling that flooded my mind and body as the ball rocketed into the darkness. At the moment it jumped off my bat, I knew it was gone. I watched it arc into the right-field seats, and heard the stadium explode into shrieks, understanding in an instant all this home run meant. . . . From smearing eye-black in a guy's cap to a World Series ring. It was a yearlong classroom. Commitment. Dedication. Teamwork. Championship ring."

That is Kirk Gibson describing the moment that was voted the greatest in Los Angeles sports history: his two-out, ninth-inning, game-winning homer against Oakland's Dennis Eckersley in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series.

"Bottom of the Ninth" is written in the same style that Gibson played. In your face, pulling no punches. He takes you from his days as a football player at Michigan State through his retirement as a Detroit Tiger in 1995. He compares Sparky Anderson to Tom Lasorda, tells why he wouldn't have come back to the Dodgers when his contract expired no matter what they offered (being held up at gunpoint will do that to a person) and explains how he tried to drag every team he played for to a World Series championship.

Chapters 9 and 10, detailing his three seasons with the Dodgers, are the most fun. The Dodgers were coming off two poor seasons when they signed Gibson for the 1988 season. Before the first spring training game, Jesse Orosco smeared eye black in his cap, which caused Gibson to storm off the field and address the team in a heated meeting.

"You guys have finished fourth and fifth the last two years, and now I know why. On a bunt play you guys throw balls into right field. You laugh, even though we've got to execute it correctly in a game. I've watched you guys on TV. Blowing plays is why, when you play St. Louis, they just keep running the bases. What are we here for? We're here to be world champions. You know what? I've been a world champion. You don't become world champions by just stumbling into it."

If you are a baseball fan and want to know how Gibson made every team he played on better, get this book. If you are a frustrated Dodger fan, and wonder what this talent-laden team of the last three years has been missing, get this book.

But if you are an Oakland A's fan, or a friend of Eckersley's, you might want to skip it altogether.

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