Our Favorite Tigers of All Time: #9 Kirk Gibson

Batting Average: .268
Home Runs: 255
RBI’s: 985
MVP (NL), 1988
ALCS MVP, 1984
Tigers: 1979 – 1987 & 1993 – 1995

Born in Ponitac, Michigan, Kirk Gibson was an All American football player for Michigan State and only played one year of baseball. He was actually drafted by both the St. Louis Cardinals football team and the Detroit Tigers. He went with his heart and chose baseball.

I love Giibby’ because of his character. He was an outstanding ball player but, more than that, he was a team motivator much like the I-Rod is today for Detroit. Under his leadership Detroit won the 1984 World Series with a dramatic home run in the eighth inning of game 5.

His greatest moment, and perhaps in all of baseball, was during the 1988 World Series between L.A. and Oakland. Gibson had been severely injured in the LCS and was not expected to play at all.

Showing up late for the game, he was in the locker room getting physical therapy and watching game 1 on the tube. The Dodgers were down 4-3 in the ninth. The broadcasters were panning the dugout and commenting on his absence. Kirk got up and limped up to the manager, Tommy Lasorta, and said he was ready to play. Losorta decides to put him in as a DH.

With two outs, bottom of the ninth, Gibson makes his only plate appearance in the series and steps up to the batters box facing future Hall of Famer, Dennis Eckersley. The first two pitches are strikes and the count is 0-2. Following two balls in a row, the third pitch is another ball and Mike Davis steals second base.

The count is 3-2, with two outs. This is it. Now or never. Go home a hero or a bum. Gibby’ steps out of the batters box and shakes off his injured leg. Stepping back in, he readies for the pitch. Eckeresley throws a back door slider down the middle and Kirk slams the ball deep over the right field fence!

What a moment in time. The fans and his team mates cheered as he hobbled around the bases pumping his fist. The Dodgers won 4-3 and they went on to win the Series. Baseball history and a baseball legend was born on this night.

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