Kirk Gibson's snub of 1984 reunion a mistake

By Rob Parker - Sports Columnist
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DETROIT - Kirk Gibson has made a terrible mistake.

It's a mistake Gibby will probably regret, maybe not now, but when he gets older and realizes what a great moment he missed out over his stubbornness.

Of all players, Gibson should be at Monday's celebration of the 1984 World Champion Detroit Tigers. That's the team that started that magical season 35-5 and went on to win the Fall Classic.

And it was Gibby who delivered the blow that sealed the deal for the Tigers against the San Diego Padres. Gibson's gigantic three-run homer in the eighth inning of the series clincher against reliever Goose Gossage is one of the most memorable moments in this franchise's history.

Yet, Gibson, the Arizona Diamondbacks' manager, has snubbed the Tigers' invitation. Instead of rejoining old teammates and hearing a heartfelt appreciation from fans on the 30th anniversary of that title, Gibson will instead spend his off day in Pittsburgh.

Shame on Gibby, the local kid who made good.

By being a no-show, Gibson turned his back on his old teammates and the fans who love him.

Staying away didn't hurt the Tigers' organization. They will still have a full house at Comerica Park and make their loot.

Gibby looks bad, not the Tigers.

Gibson, from Waterford, should have looked past any sour moments he had with current ownership and management.

Alan Trammell, if anyone, had the right to be salty and want to diss the Tigers for how they treated him after retirement. Tram was fired as manager in 2005 after the Tigers lost 300 games in his three years at the helm.

But Tram, now a coach on the Diamondbacks, will attend and let bygones be bygones.

Tram, who was the 1984 World Series MVP, will spend his off day in Motown, where he belongs.

If Tram can make the celebration, Gibby could have as well -- especially since the Tigers picked this day in order for Gibby and Tram to be able to participate. It's always tricky trying to get current managers and coaches to be involved in an event during the season.

But this was special. The Tigers knew they couldn't pull this off without Gibby or Tram. They were the backbone and glue to a championship most Tigers' fans hold near and dear to their hearts.

Even most in Baseball America know this team well because of its 35-5 unforgettable start. It's one of those numbers you just know if you're a baseball fan.

That should have been enough for Gibby to understand the moment and be the bigger guy, even if there's some past drama.

Word is that Gibby is holding a grudge against the organization for two reasons.

First, Gibson wasn't happy with the way owner Mike Ilitch treated beloved former manager Sparky Anderson, who was at the helm of the '84 team.

The Tigers waited to retire his number and had a poorly planned celebration before a game. Few fans were even in their seats when the ceremony took place. It wasn't a memorable moment by any stretch.

Worse, Anderson died in 2010. The Tigers didn't retire his number until the following year.

Secondly, Gibby is mad at how general manager Dave Dombrowski handled the failed attempt of Tram running the Tigers. Gibson was the bench coach.

The team had little talent and had almost no chance of winning consistently. The organization tried selling the '84 Tigers to fans.

Then, both were booted and took the burnt of the criticism in a pretty dark three-year period of Tigers.

It's all understandable. And there are times when you have to stand on principle. But this isn't one of them.

Clearly, this was a time you have move on.

Fans will ask why Gibby wasn't present. Sports-talk radio will call Gibby selfish. Instead of people celebrating who came to remember a great time, the conversation will be about Gibson being a no-show.

Some of the other Tigers who are expected to attend include Lou Whitaker, Juan Berenguer, Dave Bergman, Darrell Evans, Dan Petry and Dave Rozema.

Gibson can't be sure there will be another opportunity to relive a fantastic moment such as this or that so many teammates will be around to take part as well.

For sure, Gibby blew it. He will be missed. But ultimately, he's the one that will miss out. He just doesn't know it yet.

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