"The real trick to life is not to be in the know, but to be in the mystery."
-Fred Alan Wolf

28 May 2012

Happy Birthday, Gibby.

My all-time favorite Tiger, Kirk Gibson, was born on this date in 1957.

The Detroit Athletic Club remembers Gibby's dinger off of Gossage in the 1984 World Series ...

Gossage had faced Gibson late in Game Four the day before, coaxing Gibby into a harmless popout. The Tigers won that game, and now they were trying to tack on some insurance runs late in Game Five on a Sunday evening at Tiger Stadium. Gossage walked Marty Castillo to start the 8th. Whitaker followed with a bunt that was misplayed by the Padre infield. Runners were now on first and second. Sparky asked Trammell, despite his hot-hitting, to bunt the runners over, which he did. That put runners at second and third with first base open and Gibson coming to the plate. San Diego manager Dick Williams instructed Gossage to walk Gibson to set up a double play situation and force at any base. But Goose, recalling his tremendous success against Gibson in the past, motioned that he didn’t want to issue the free pass. Williams trotted out to the dugout, and after a discussion on the mound that included much of the Padre infield, Gossage won the argument. He would get to face Gibson.

Famously, an isolated camera and microphone documented Sparky Anderson’s reaction to the scenario. The gum-chewing Tiger manager was amazed that Williams was swayed by Gossage. “No sonofabitch is going to tell me what to do, I can guarantee you that,” Sparky said to coach Roger Craig as he witnessed Williams go to the mound to debate with Gossage.

But Gossage did persuade Williams and he was allowed to pitch to Gibson. Pitch one was deposited into the right field upper deck by a powerful swing from Gibson’s bat. It was the first home run Gibson hit off Gossage, the pitcher who had welcomed him to the big leagues by striking him out in his first at-bat, and who had manhandled the Detroit hitter for so long.

Detroit fans don’t need me to tell them what happened next. Gibson pounced around the bases, fists in the air, while the Tiger Stadium crowd shook the old ballpark with their approval. Everyone knew that the Tigers would be World Champions. They’d really known it since April, but the World Series was the final chapter. Gibson’s blast off Gossage was the exclamation point. He would never get another hit off the Goose, but it didn’t matter. He’d won the most important battle.

Read the rest here.

Watch with Sparky ...

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