|Holland Paints Baseball Legend Kirk Gibson
The job of sports artist Stephen Holland is sometimes a hard one. He's challenged to capture a single moment, one frame in history's movie reel that perfectly tells the story of a player. Typically to see the greatness that makes a sports champion, you need to look at a season, a few years, or often a whole career. But for some there is a moment in time where their full ability, character, talent and the culmination of all their hard earned work is perfectly crystallized in a flash.
Gibson Trot -
Signed By Kirk Gibson
41"x21" Giclee on canvas -
Edition 88 / AP 25 / PP 25
There are very few examples of such moments. Wilt Chamberlain scores 100 points in a game, Don Larson pitches the perfect game, Willie Mays makes "The Catch" and if you were anywhere near a TV in 1988 you know Kirk Gibson's game winning pinch hit in the world series earned him a place of honor in this exclusive club.
Many have said it makes perfect sense that this unforgettable story happened in tinsel town. Because if you did not know it was true, you'd swear it was a story right out of a movie.
1988 was Gibson's first year with the LA Dodgers. The year before he had achieved records both on the field and in the air, flying a small craft higher then anyone before. And '88 was looking just as great. The team took to him right away and he proved to be the go to pinch hitter. With him on their roster it was no surprise that they made it to the series.
But the battle to get there came at a price. His efforts during the pennant race to steal bases and slide in under the ball had caused crippling injuries to both his legs. By the time they made it into the series Gibson could barely walk much less stand and twist to hit a ball or run to a base. And to make matters more grim, he acquired a debilitating stomach virus. By game one Gibson was considered a non- factor in the Dodgers line up.
By the ninth inning of the first game with two outs and the Oakland A's ahead by one, the Dodgers needed their clutch hitter that got them this far in the season more then ever. Gibson had not even left the club house much less sat in the dugout until this moment. But in this desperate hour he told manager Tommy Lasorda "Skip, I think I can hit for you".
When Gibson rose from the dugout 50 thousand fans rose to their feet with a thunderous roar. The next few minutes after may be some of the most intense in baseball history. Gibson fell behind quickly, two strikes, two balls with an outside pitch. Now at the sixth pitch, he swung with nothing more then upper body strength alone to gracefully meet a ball, that almost effortlessly sailed into the outfield bleachers.
It is this next few seconds of a victorious Gibson circling the diamond under the rain of cheers from the fans, on his way to be embraced by his team members rushing to the field, that Stephen Holland has so fantastically captured on canvas.
Danny (Thayer) Stern