Bryan Cranston got 'goosebumps' narrating MLB Network special on 1988 Dodgers

Mark TownsendYahoo Sports Contributor

Bryan Cranston may be best known for playing the ruthless Walter White on the acclaimed television series “Breaking Bad.” When it comes to his beloved Los Angeles Dodgers though, he’s nothing like his iconic television persona.

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Like any diehard baseball fan, Cranston wears his emotions on his sleeves. That emotion jumps off the screen in his latest television project, which revolves around a key time in Dodgers history.

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The award-winning actor served as the narrator for the latest edition of “MLB Network Presents” titled “Only in Hollywood,” which focuses on the Dodgers memorable 1988 World Series championship season. The program will premiere Sunday night, July 15 at 8:00 p.m. ET/5:00 p.m. PT and reair at 10:00 p.m. ET/7:00 p.m. PT.

As Cranston revealed during a recent interview with the Los Angeles Times, being alone in a booth talking over moments that defined the Dodgers 1988 season was enough to give him goose bumps.

“When my agents came to me and said Major League Baseball would like you to … I said, ‘Yes!’ ” said Cranston, 62, who won four Emmy Awards for the AMC crime drama “Breaking Bad.”

“They said, ‘But you haven’t heard the deal yet.’ I didn’t have to. Whether it’s on stage, on Broadway, starring in a movie or television series or being a voice in narration of something that is meaningful to you, I want to be a part of good story-telling. And this documentary is a good story.”

So good that Cranston said he got goosebumps in a Los Angeles studio as he chronicled a season that culminated with one of the most dramatic homers in World Series history, Kirk Gibson’s Game 1, pinch-hit, walk-off shot off Dennis Eckersley that propelled the Dodgers to their last title.

Well known Dodgers fan Bryan Cranston poses with current star Matt Kemp. Cranston will narrate an MLB Network special on the 1988 Dodgers this weekend. (Getty Images)
Well known Dodgers fan Bryan Cranston poses with current star Matt Kemp. Cranston will narrate an MLB Network special on the 1988 Dodgers this weekend. (Getty Images)

Cranston plays a vital role in telling the story as several notable Dodgers legends and baseball personalities share their memories of the 1988 season. We were fortunate enough to screen “Only in Hollywood” ahead of its premiere, and like every edition of MLB Network Presents produced before it, it’s highly recommended for baseball fans of all ages.

You don’t even have to be a Dodgers fan to appreciate the Hollywood story that was the 1988 Dodgers. As legendary broadcaster Vin Scully emphatically and eloquently stated following Kirk Gibson’s unlikely pinch-hit, walk-off home run in Game 1 of the World Series, “In a year that has been so improbable, the impossible has happened.”

That one sentence truly captured the roller coaster ride the Dodgers went on. A season that started with Gibson nearly leaving spring training over a prank by teammate Jesse Orosco, ultimately resulted in the franchise’s fifth World Series championship since moving to Los Angeles in 1958. This program captures it all too with rarely heard anecdotes from both Scully and Gibson, including their version of the spring training prank story, along with Hall of Fame manager Tommy Lasorda and record-setting pitcher Orel Hershiser.

This season marks the 30th anniversary of that team’s triumph, and Dodgers fans also hope this fall will mark the end of their now 30-year championship drought.

You can count Cranston among them.

In lending his voice to the MLB Network special, he was taken back to the moments and the feelings those moments created.

“It transports you back to those memories, so you don’t just recall them, you relive them,” Cranston said. “Vin Scully calling Gibson’s home run, Gibby’s arm pump, Tommy Lasorda thrusting his arms into the air. It was just an incredible season.

“I was in that booth, going through the dialogue, and I was like, ‘Oh my God, I remember that so well,’ and the pins and needles and the tension that it all created was wonderful.”

For me, personally, the 1988 World Series and more specifically Gibson’s home run is one of my earliest memories watching baseball. It helped spark an interest that has turned into full blown love and appreciation.

Though not a Dodgers fan, “Only in Hollywood” brought back a big piece of my childhood. It also provided rare stories and new perspective that casual and diehard fans will appreciate.

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