I have been a fan of the Detroit Tigers since the Summer of 1984. That means I am lucky enough to vividly remember my baseball team winning a World Series title, and waiting for them to win another. Since every year the team itself asks me who my Tiger is I decided to write about my favorite 25 Tigers since I became a fan…at eight years old…This has less to do with performance as it does with whatever intangible qualities Tigers’ players have…I mean this is the town that loved Brandon Inge and Don Kelly…and no neither one of those players will make my list…With all of that being said…
#3 Right Fielder Kirk Gibson
Kirk Gibson won a National League MVP, and hit a huge home run in the World Series for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1988. However, he hit a bigger home runs in the 1984 World Series. In Game Five Gibson would smack two home runs the second of which secured the World Series crown for the Tigers for the first time in 16 years. For Tigers fans my age and from my generation it is the Detroit Tigers home run…far bigger than Magglio Ordonez’s blast in the 2006 ALCS since it was on the big stage and secured the title.
Gibson had an incredible career. He would be a part of two teams to win a World Series title. National League MVP, One Silver Slugger award and in his career’s second act he would win a National League Manager of the Year award. A lot of people think that makes him Cooperstown worthy, but I am not one of them. It should have been good enough for the Tigers to retire his #23 but that honor fell to Willie Horton. I am not sure if a team can retire a number twice.
In Detroit his best season was 1985. He hit .287 with 29 dingers and 97 RBI. He also stole 30 bags that year. While Gibson was a great piece, it is hard to classify him as a superstar. He was never the guy, even though he was a favorite of Manager Sparky Anderson and for a time a fan favorite here in Detroit. Gibby is a tough guy to root for, a tough guy to be around, and I think by 1987 his act had grown a little thin here in Detroit. He became a free agent because of a collusion case in the 980’s and left town. Which for most old school Detroit fans is the ultimate sin. Sparky would talk him into returning in 1993 and he would spend his final years as a player with the Tigers.
Gibson is well known by the next generation of Tigers fans (after my own) as first a color commentator on Tigers TV broadcasts from 1998 to 2002. He would be part of a trio (with Eli Zaret and former Detroit Lions QB Gary Danielson) to host a weekly TV show focsuing on Detroit Sports called The Locker Room. In 2003 he would be hired by fellow 1984 Tigers champion Alan Trammell as Bench Coach. After managing the Arizona Diamondbacks for several years he would return to the Tigers broadcast booth in 2015 on a part time basis. He also coached for the Tigers in 2016 Spring Training focusing mostly on base running.
In Detroit, and probably Los Angeles he is a hero. The guy who could get the big hit on the big stage to secure the win. He has two very memorable Home Runs in the World Series that are remembered with much fondness by two separate fan bases. Even without being in the Hall of Fame that is a heck of an accomplishment.