In 1991 the Minnesota Twins won the World Series in 7 games. In the final game of the Series, a single in the 10th was the hit that won it. Seven months earlier, 52 hits rained down on Rodney King and led to the LA riots in 1992.
I don’t think anyone would say that Rodney King was a good guy. The 1991 beating was the result of a DUI stop following a high-speed chase. But I also don’t think anyone would say he deserved to get his ass handed to him by a bunch of racist LA cops. With the videotaped beating and the subsequent trial of the officers, King became a cultural touchstone. The LA riots only added to the legend and King’s plea, “Can we all get along?” became part of our national vernacular.
20 years later, King has left the building. It’s odd to think about how someone who really only had a bit part to play in history ended up becoming so important to the recent history of the United States. I’m pretty sure just about anyone alive at that time remembers the beating, the trial of the officers and the ensuing riots. But how many people remember Jack Morris’ 10-inning shutout that clinched the Series for the Twins and clinched him the Series MVP trophy? King may not have been a hero. He may not have even been that good of a person. But his story still redefined a moment in American history.