Poets on Sports

Lots of Stuff Happened in 1988

by Karissa Morton

Today is my birthday.  In honor, here is a 2Chainz video:

But really, in honor of my somehow surviving a quarter of a century (ew), I got to researching sports events that happened the year I was born.  Here are some highlights.


Super Bowl XXII happened.  The Redskins won their second Super Bowl with a 42-10 defeat of the Broncos.  Presumably, 297-year-old Peyton Manning played in this game.  This was a strange season–it’d been shortened by a players’ strike due to a labor dispute, so three games were played with mostly replacement players.  (I’d love to see a game of all replacement players, personally…)

sb22In the XXII meeting, the Redskins set a shitton of records, basically.  At that time, Redskins QB Doug Williams (who was the first African-American player to have played in the Super Bowl & was named MVP) set a record of 340 yards, as well as a record for being the first Super Bowl player to pass for four touchdowns not only in a half, but in a quarter.  The game started out with the Redskins being down 10-0 on the Broncos, but they quickly roared back, including scoring 35 points in the second quarter.

The Broncos were headed by John Elway, who more or less owned the football world in 1988, & prompted the Broncos to be a three-point favorite prior to the game.  Elway also gave the world this gem of a game in 1988:

Instead of the Broncos doing the expected, the Redskins roared back, winning 42-10 & setting records for total offensive yards, total offensive rushing yards, most TDs scored in a Super Bowl game, total offensive yards in a quarter, most points in a quarter & a half, most touchdown in a quarter (5!), & the largest deficit a team has overcome to win a Super Bowl.  BOOM, right?!  Meanwhile, not in the Super Bowl, this was also the year Redskins RB Jamie Morris set the NFL single game record for rushing attempts (45).  This record still stands.

As a side note, The Wonder Years premiered after Super Bowl XXII, featuring my childhood doppelganger Winnie Cooper:


The 1988 World Series brought the Oakland A’s & the LA Dodgers in for a meeting.  The A’s were huge favorites in the series, but the Dodgers pulled out the win in only five games.  This was the year of this pinch-hit by National League MVP Kirk Gibson:

The Dodgers were down 4-3 with two outs in the bottom of the 9th when Gibson hobbled to the plate to pinch hit.  He could hardly walk due to serious injuries to both of his legs, sustained during the NCLS, plus he had the stomach flu.  If this isn’t the greatest home run of all time, then tell me what is.   It’s also hysterical because Dodgers coach Tommy Lasorda didn’t want the A’s to know that Gibson was about to hit.  He put someone else on deck, shocking everyone–including Vin Scully–by having Gibson head up to the plate at the last second.

He quickly racked up a 0-2 count (oh, shit, right?!) before waiting out two balls to end up on a 2-2 count.  After this, another ball gave the runner a chance to steal second.  Then, with a full count, one of the greatest sports moments ever happened.  Gibson claimed that he remembered a scout saying that with a full count against a leftie, this pitcher would undoubtedly throw a backdoor slider.  He put his faith in that memory & prepped for that pitch.  When it indeed came, he slammed it as hard as he could & brought in two runs, sealing the win for the Dodgers.


In the 1988 NBA Finals, the reigning NBA champion Lakers faced down the Pistons.  There were some serious badasses playing in this game–Isiah Thomas (with his still record 25 third quarter points), Magic Johnson (who played with the flu throughout the series), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (who was still rockin’ it at age 41), & Dennis Rodman (who actually kinda fucked this series up for them, but still).

Rodman can’t take too much blame because although he missed an important game-winning/championship-winning rebound in Game 6, it was, on the whole, a series chock full of Pistons mistakes.  The series ran all the way down to Game 7, wherein the Pistons ended up losing by three points after a miscue.

The first four games went back & forth–Pistons, Lakers, Lakers, Pistons, including Game 4 wherein the Pistons won by 25.  The Pistons pulled out Game 5 by 10 points, but then lost Games 6 & 7 by one & three points, respectively, leading to a rough end of the season for the Pistons.  The Lakers, however, became the first team in 20 years to earn repeat championships with this win.


1988:  The year of Winning Colors.  Yes, Risen Star won both the Belmont & Preakness, & was just two positions short of the Triple Crown, but I’ll always hold a special place in my heart for Winning Colors.  She still remains one of only three fillies to have ever won the Kentucky Derby, & she did it by simply out-fucking-running the other horses.  She broke fast from the gates, immediately obtained the lead, & never gave it up:

What’s awesome about this year besides Winning Colors’ run for girl power is that Risen Star, who came so close to a Triple Crown win, was the son of Secretariat.  He, himself, went on to sire some badass horses, so I guess it’s all good as far as he’s concerned.


1988 was also the year of Steffi Graf.  19-year-old Graf would go on to be called (by Billie Jean King, nonetheless) “definitely the greatest women’s tennis player of all time.”  In ‘88, she became only the third woman in history to have ever won a Grand Slam.   Not only did she win it, she did so by wholly dominating all of her opponents.  The icing on the cake?  1988 was also the year when she won Olympic gold.

The tennis world literally had to make up a term for what she’d done–”The Calendar Year Golden Slam.”  She remains the only player to have won a Golden Slam as a singles player.  Graf would go on to win 22 Grand Slam singles titles–the second most in history, & most since the introduction of the Open Era (amateurs playing alongside professionals).

In other words, Steffi Graf is one BAMF.

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