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Kirk Gibson

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Kirk Harold Gibson

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[edit] Biographical Information

Kirk Gibson played 17 years in the majors, and later became a manager. He played 12 seasons for the Detroit Tigers, including in their impressive 1984 season when they had 104 victories and easily won the 1984 World Series. He also was a key player for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1988 and in the 1988 World Series; it was a year in which he was named 1988 National League MVP.

Gibson's pinch hit two-run home run off Dennis Eckersley in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series gave the Dodgers a 5-4 win over the Oakland A's and propelled the Dodgers to a 4 games to 1 Series triumph over the heavily-favored A's. The 1988 NL MVP was hobbled by two injuries, one to his left hamstring and the other to his right knee, and it was considered a foregone conclusion that he would not be able to play. Few baseball fans will ever forget the sight of Gibson hobbling around the bases to the silken sound of Vin Scully's voice crying out, "In a year that has been so improbable, the impossible has happened!" It was his only at bat of the series.

There are three extant calls of this legendary homer: Scully's national call on NBC-TV, Don Drysdale's on the Dodger radio network, and Jack Buck's call on national (CBS) radio. His famous words - "And the 3-2 pitch coming here, from Eckersley. Gibson swings and a fly ball to deep right field. Is it gonna be a home run? Unbelievable!! A home run for Gibson!!! And the Dodgers have won the game 5-4. I dont believe what I just saw!"

Gibson heard Scully's broadcast, saying his injury was too severe, that he cannot play. He used those words as incentive to try hitting baseballs off a Tee and prepare himself.

Scully's call: "In a year that has been so improbable, the impossible has happened!"

Los Angeles over the decades has boasted such great stars as Jerry West, Elgin Baylor, Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Magic Johnson, Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale, Mike Piazza, Norm Van Brocklin, Bob Waterfield, Eric Dickerson, Wayne Gretzky, etc. But Gibson's home run easily and repeatedly has been voted the greatest moment in Los Angeles sports history.

Gibson is probably the best player (and only former MVP) never to have been selected for the All-Star Game.

Gibson was an All-American football wide receiver at Michigan State University. He was also a television broadcaster for the Detroit Tigers from 1998 to 2002 and the Tigers bench coach from 2003 to 2005.

He was named bench coach of the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2007, then on July 1, 2010 succeeded A.J. Hinch as the team's manager. He helped engineer a turnaround in 2011, when the D-Backs won the NL West title and took the Milwaukee Brewers to the limit before bowing out in the NLDS. However, the team had to content itself with a .500 record in both 2012 and 2013, never really being in contention. Then, the bottom fell out completely in 2014, as the team struggled with injuries and poor performances and spent most of the season trying to get out of the cellar. Arizona made some important front-office changes that season, hiring Tony LaRussa as President, who then replaced GM Kevin Towers with Dave Stewart in September. On September 26th, Gibson was next to go, being fired alongside bench coach Alan Trammell with three games left to play and the team in last place. In a strange twist, Trammell was asked to stay on for the final week-end as interim manager.

He was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease early in the 2015 season, after having joined the Fox Sports Detroit broadcast crew. In June of that year, his son Cam Gibson was selected by the Tigers in the 5th round of the 2015 amateur draft.

The two most similar players through 2006, according to the similarity scores method, are Ray Lankford and Eric Davis.

[edit] Notable Achievements

1987 1988 1989
Andre Dawson Kirk Gibson Kevin Mitchell

Preceded by
A.J. Hinch
Arizona Diamondbacks Manager
Succeeded by
Alan Trammell

[edit] Year-By-Year Managerial Record

Year Team League Record Finish Organization Playoffs Notes
2010 Arizona Diamondbacks National League 34-49 5th Arizona Diamondbacks replaced A.J. Hinch (31-48) on July 1
2011 Arizona Diamondbacks National League 94-68 1st Arizona Diamondbacks Lost NLDS
2012 Arizona Diamondbacks National League 81-81 3rd Arizona Diamondbacks
2013 Arizona Diamondbacks National League 81-81 2nd Arizona Diamondbacks
2014 Arizona Diamondbacks National League 63-96 -- Arizona Diamondbacks replaced by Alan Trammell on September 26

[edit] Further Reading

  • Bill Bishop: "Kirk Gibson", in Mark Pattison and David Raglin, ed.: Detroit Tigers 1984: What A Start! What A Finish!, SABR Publications, Phoenix, AZ, 2012, pp. 73-79. ISBN 1933599448

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