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Dodgers' top homers leave previous memories

Where does Manny's shot rank among the 10 greatest Dodgers homers ever?

July 24, 2009|BILL PLASCHKE

The chills were pure Gibson.

The breathlessness was all Finley.

In the history of the Dodgers' Hollywood homers, the blast was a little bit of each, lacking the history but equaling the histrionics.

Said Dodgers team historian Mark Langill: "It was the perfect storm of a great moment."

Said Dodgers center fielder Matt Kemp: "It just made you want to laugh and laugh."

It says here that Manny Ramirez's Bobblebomb Wednesday night was so powerful, it flew to the third spot on the list of Dodgers Hollywood homers, soaring past the unreal likes of Mike Scioscia and Rick Monday, landing just short of unimaginable Kirk Gibson and Steve Finley.

"It's too early to know the magnitude of what the Ramirez homer meant," Langill said. "But as far as one moment is concerned, it was off the charts."

There have been Dodgers homers that have meant more -- Monday in the 1981 playoffs against the Montreal Expos.

There have been Dodgers homers that have been more historic -- the four consecutive bombs to tie the score in the ninth inning against the San Diego Padres in 2006.

There have even been Dodgers homers from current players that have resulted in bigger wins -- James Loney's grand slam in last year's playoffs against the Chicago Cubs.

But only one other blast has spiked a higher instant fever, caused a louder instant cheer, created more immediate magic.

Nothing has been invented that can outrun Gibson's limping 1988 World Series shot. It will be difficult to see a bigger homer than Finley's invisible walk-off grand slam that gave the Dodgers the 2004 division title against the San Francisco Giants.

But Ramirez's homer in the sixth inning against the Cincinnati Reds Wednesday night ranks third for, oh, about five reasons.

Tie score. Pinch-hit. Grand slam. Into Mannywood. On Manny Ramirez Bobblehead Doll Night.

You know what? Here's five more.

No batting practice. Sore left hand. Unknown pitcher. Ninety-six on the gun. First pitch.

Had enough?

How about this?

It was only the fourth pinch-hit in a 17-season career of a guy who has no idea how to do that.

"It was crazy, man, just crazy," Kemp said.

It was the first time in my 21 years covering the Dodgers that I have seen Dodger Stadium fans summon a player for two curtain calls.

The Dodgers' players joyfully engaged in a home-plate dogpile in the dugout.

And Juan Pierre, bless his heart, remained for several long minutes in the on-deck circle so everyone could finish cheering.

Watching all this from the press box, I'll admit, I got chills, and this doesn't mean I've suddenly become a big Manny Ramirez fan, because I haven't.

No, I didn't accept the team's offer of a bobblehead doll.

And yes, I still believe he is a cheat who has never truly admitted or shown remorse for his drug-policy violations.

But until proven otherwise, Wednesday's moment was created cleanly, and one should be able to appreciate it without buying into the man who created it.

I was often at odds with the once-surly Kirk Gibson, too, but that doesn't mean that I didn't embrace his one-legged wonder.

As the ball sailed into the left-field corner Wednesday, it was all about Manny Ramirez. But once it landed in the seats, it became about the Dodgers, the sum being bigger than some of its fractured parts, and worthy of the tingle.

The list of top 10 Hollywood Homers, in reverse order.

10 The Giants Lose The Pennant, The Giants Lose The. . . . Mike Piazza hits two home runs on the final day of the 1993 season to knock the Giants out of the playoffs and clinch his Rookie of the Year award.

Poor babies.

9 Wrigleyville Blackout. . . . James Loney hits a grand slam in the first game of the 2008 division series against the Chicago Cubs, silencing the Wrigley Field crowd, killing the Cubs' spirit, leading to a stunning three-game sweep and the Dodgers' first postseason series win in 20 years.

Great stadium, lousy fans.

8 The Fergie Flash. . . . On the final Friday of the 1980 season, Joe Ferguson hits a 10th-inning walk-off homer against the Houston Astros to spur the Dodgers to a three-game sweep, forcing a one-game playoff against the Astros for the division title.

The homer is memorable as much for the trot as the swing, as Ferguson charged around the bases and tore off his helmet and eventually picked up Manager Tommy Lasorda near home plate.

Incidentally, Lasorda's weekend didn't end so well, as the Dodgers lost the one-game playoff against the Astros when he started Dave Goltz instead of this hot new kid named Fernando Valenzuela.

7 Gibby Before Gibby. . . . Gibson could never have pulled off his 1988 World Series heroics if Mike Scioscia didn't nearly equal that feat in Game 4 of the National League Championship series with a ninth-inning, two-run tying homer against New York Mets' ace Dwight Gooden.

You want Hollywood? Gooden was pitching a three-hitter at the time, and Scioscia only had three homers during the season.

You want fleeting? Here's guessing only a handful of Scioscia's current Angels have ever even heard of this home run.

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