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Tuesday, June 7, 2022

Brian Horton came up big ahead of Gibson for Dodgers in 1988 WS; Later had tough time after

A lot went into setting up Kirk Gibson's legendary home run in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series. Brian Holton proved a big part of that, The Hartford Courant wrote.

Holton pitched the sixth and seventh innings. He gave up one walk and didn't give up a hit. More importantly, he held Oakland scoreless.

"But if you look at it, you'll see that a guy like Brian Holton's been doing this all season, whenever they've needed him," teammate Ricky Horton told The Courant afterward. "That's why when this game was over, the guy I wanted to see was Holton."

Holton had been doing it all season. In a career year, he'd posted a 1.70 ERA over 45 regular season outings.

He saw two more big league seasons after that - for six in all. For Holton, though, he later told The Los Angeles Times his time since then has been tough, including addiction to alcohol and pain medication.

Holton's career began in 1978, taken by the Dodgers in the first round of the draft out of Louisburg College in North Carolina.

Holton started at single-A Clinton. He made AA San Antonio in 1979, then AAA Albuquerque in 1981. He stayed at Albuquerque for most of five seasons, used largely as a starter. Along the way, he underwent elbow surgery in 1983.

Then, in September 1985, he first made Los Angeles. He got into three games in relief and gave up four earned in four innings of work.

He returned to Los Angeles for 1986, where he saw 12 outings. He then became a regular in 1987. He saw 53 outings, one start, and went 3-2, with a 3.89 ERA. 

In one September 1987 game, though, he gave up a crucial home run, UPI wrote.

"As soon as I let it go, I knew it was in a good spot for him, but not for me," Holton told UPI. "'It was a cut fastball, but I dropped my elbow a little bit."

Then came his stellar 1988 campaign capped by the World Series. He spoke to his hometown Pittsburgh Press early that October about what it took to get there - specifically that 1983 elbow surgery, the prospect that he might not pitch again, and the rehab that followed.

"When I started I couldn't even squeeze a Nerf ball," Holton recounted then to The Press. "But it began getting better."

After that season, Holton moved to the Orioles in a trade. He went 5-7, with a 4.02 ERA over 39 outings, 12 starts. He then saw 33 final outings, all relief, in 1990. He went 2-3, with a 4.50 ERA. He then ended his career with two more seasons in the minors, both back at Albuquerque.

In 2017, he spoke to The Times about his post-playing days. He'd fallen into addiction to alcohol and pain medication and even pawned his World Series ring to stay out of bankruptcy. He spoke on occasion of the then-Dodgers having a good year.

"I want to tell them to slow it down, step back, try to enjoy every moment," Holton told The Times of the 2017 Dodgers. "Because it goes by so damn quick."

1990 Minor League Tally 
Players/Coaches Featured:3,935
Made the Majors:1,314-33.4%-X
Never Made Majors:2,621-66.6%
5+ Seasons in the Majors:535-X
10+ Seasons in the Minors:328

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