Kirk Gibson

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Kirk Harold Gibson

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Biographical Information[edit]

Kirk Gibson logged 17 years in the majors while compiling a solid and memorable baseball career. A power hitter who hit over 20 homers in five consecutive seasons, he also possessed outstanding speed, posting three seasons of 30-plus steals. Although he never achieved 30 homers or 100 RBI in any season, he proved to be a solid batsman who frequently got on base. Undeniably, his main calling card was his competitive fire and sheer will to win -- sometimes to a fault.

Gibson 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, in which he was named the National League MVP.

Gibson's pinch hit two-run homer 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 memorable 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 don't 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." Gibson's home run easily and repeatedly has been voted the greatest moment in Los Angeles sports history.

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 found itself with a .500 record in both 2012 and 2013, never really being in contention, and he was eventually let go.

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 diagnosed with Parkinson's disease early in the 2015 season, after having joined the Fox Sports Detroit broadcast crew. In 2016, he returned to the game as a guest spring training baserunning instructor with the Tigers.

Surprisingly, Gibson is probably the best player -- and is the only former MVP in either league -- to have never been selected for an All-Star Game. It arguably reinforces the notion that he was a good, solid player who experienced a few great moments during his long ML career. The two most similar players through 2006, according to the similarity scores method, are Ray Lankford and Eric Davis.

Gibson was an All-American football wide receiver at Michigan State University. In June of 2015, his son Cam Gibson was selected by the Tigers in the 5th round of the 2015 amateur draft.

  • He was one of only a handful of players to hit 250 or more home runs and never make a big league All-Star team.

Notable Achievements[edit]

1987 1988 1989
Andre Dawson Kirk Gibson Kevin Mitchell

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

Year-By-Year Managerial Record[edit]

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

Further Reading[edit]

  • Jason Beck: "Gibson to help Tigers' baserunners this spring",, January 27, 2016. [1]
  • 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

Related Sites[edit]