Kirk Gibson

From Academic Kids

Kirk Harold Gibson (born May 28, 1957) is a former American two-sport athletic star, best known as a Major League Baseball player noted for his competiveness and clutch hitting.

He was born in Pontiac, Michigan, grew up in Waterford, Michigan, and attended Michigan State University where he was an All-American wide receiver in football. He played only one year of college baseball. He was drafted by both the Detroit Tigers baseball team and the St. Louis Cardinals football team, but chose baseball.

He played as the right fielder for the Detroit Tigers from 1983 to 1985. He helped the Tigers to the 1984 World Series championship. He became a free agent after the 1985 season, but received no significant offers. Neither did any other free agent that year. He re-signed with the Tigers.

In 1988, an arbitrator, Thomas Roberts, ruled that the owners colluded against the players. He ruled that 25 players, including Kirk Gibson, were to be immediate free agents. They were free to sign with any team. The Los Angeles Dodgers signed him.

Gibson was known for hitting clutch home runs. In the 1988 National League Championship series against the New York Mets, Gibson hit a solo home run in the top of the 11th of Game 4 that ended up winning the game for the Dodgers. In Game 5, he hit a two-out three-run homer in the fifth; the Dodgers ended up winning the game 7-4.

In the 1988 World Series championship with the Oakland Athletics, Gibson saw only a single plate appearance, but it was one of the most memorable in baseball history. Gibson had severely injured his leg during the League Championship Series. He was not expected to play at all. In Game 1 (at Dodger Stadium), with the Dodgers losing by a score of 4-3, Mike Davis on first, and two out in the ninth inning, manager Tommy Lasorda inserted Gibson as a pinch hitter. Surprising everyone, Gibson limped up to the plate. He was facing future Hall-of-Famer Dennis Eckersley, the best relief pitcher in baseball at the time. Gibson quickly went down in the count, 0-2, but received a few outside pitches from Eckersley to work to a 3-2 count. On the seventh pitch of his at bat, a ball, Davis stole second. The A's could have walked him to face Steve Sax, but chose to pitch to him. With an awkward swing, Gibson hit the 3-2 pitch just over the right-field fence. He hobbled around the bases to win the game 5-4 for the Dodgers. The home run was so memorable that it was included as a finalist in Major League Baseball contest to determine the sport's "Greatest Moment of All Time".

In 1991, he was traded to the Kansas City Royals, and then in 1992 to the Pittsburgh Pirates. He then spent the final three years of his career (1993 - 1995) with the Detroit Tigers.

He was named the National League MVP in 1988. He is the only MVP winner never to appear on an All-Star roster. He was named to the team twice, in 1985 and 1988, but declined the invitation both times.

He retired in August, 1995. After a stint as a broadcaster, he is now the bench coach for the Detroit Tigers.

He married JoAnn Sklarski on December 22, 1985 in a double ceremony where Tiger pitcher Dave Rozema married JoAnn's sister Sandy. They were married at Grosse Pointe Memorial Church in Grosse Pointe Farms, Michigan.

He set a flying record in 1987. He flew a Cessna 206 to the height of 25,200 feet in Lakeland, Florida. The record was certified by the National Aeronautic Association.

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