Kirk Gibson Diagnosed with Parkinson’s

Parkinson’s Disease is debilitating to the person directly affected by it, and their friends and family. The most recent victim of Parkinson’s is former player and manager Kirk Gibson.

Gibson, 57, is just one season removed from managing the Arizona Diamondbacks and held that position for nearly five seasons. As a manager, Gibson won the 2011 National League Manager of the Year Award after the Diamondbacks finished 94-68, atop the NL West. Going back to 2011, Gibson’s Diamondbacks finished fourth in home runs, second in runs batted in, and second in stolen bases. Beyond that however, the Diamondbacks were either slightly above or below pedestrian in the remaining offensive categories, a testament to Gibson’s ability as a manager.

Gibson’s other roughly four and a half seasons did not go so well for Gibson, as he finished 81-81 in two consecutive seasons, and lost 96 games in his final season.

As a player, Gibson enjoyed much more prolonged and continuous success. He broke into the league in 1979 out of Michigan State, where he was also a football star. Gibson would spend 12 of his 17 seasons with his hometown Detroit Tigers. During his time with the Tigers, he appeared on three MVP ballots, finishing as high as sixth in 1984, when he also won the World Series. Gibson’s career with the Dodgers is what he may be most remembered for.

In three years with Los Angeles, he won an MVP award and hit one of the most famous home runs in World Series history. Gibson’s MVP award came in 1988 when he finished with 106 runs, 157 hits, 25 home runs, 76 RBIs, 31 SBs, he hit .290 and he got on base at an impressive rate, with an OBP of .377. His MVP award also marked the 12th time in MLB history when the MVP was awarded to a player not named to the All-Star team.

More impressive than Gibson’s winning the MVP was his performance in the 1988 World Series. He had one, that’s right one plate appearance in the World Series, and it may be one of the most well known in history. With Gibson having injured both legs in the NLCS, it was doubtful that he’d play in the World Series. He was called on to pinch-hit in Game 1 and with the Dodgers down 4-3, Gibson, after being down 0-2 ripped a slider over the fence for the go-ahead home run off of future Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley. Gibson, visibly hurt, hobbled around the bases and pumped his fists, an iconic scene.

Gibson enjoyed success as both a manager and a player, something very few people have been able to accomplish. And now, someone who was once a physical specimen and an athlete’s athlete has been weakened beyond belief. It goes to show that not only elderly people and boxers get Parkinson’s, but childhood heroes and athletes with pure brute strength as well.

Good luck to Kirk Gibson in what will be a long and painful journey.