As Brian Holton lay in a Wisconsin hospital preparing for knee-replacement surgery a few days ago, he was comforted by a number on his medical chart.
It is a number that, while legendary among Dodgers fans, has held an even greater importance to the team’s former relief pitcher. It has defined both the best six months of his life and the disillusioning 29-year journey to relive it.
It has chased him through homelessness, jail and substance abuse. Yet, for all the pain it has caused, it still fills Holton with blinding hope.
“On my chart, for whatever reason, there was the number 88,” said Holton. “I saw that and said, ‘Doc, this surgery is going to turn out just...