When you spend forty years in any profession, one has an abundance of stories to share.  Former MLB player and manager John Gibbons dishes some really fascinating behind-the-scenes stories in his autobiography - Gibby: Tales of A Baseball Lifer.

Since 1980 when Gibbons was a number one amateur draft pick by the New York Mets, being in and around the game of baseball is all he's known.  As a player, Gibbons' Baseball Almanac page is a very quick read.  18 games in total, played in parts of the 1984 and 1986 seasons with the Mets, and Gibbons has one home run to show for his efforts. But, there is one other caveat that the Great Falls, Montana native has to show for his years of sacrifice.

Getting in some games during the Mets' 1986 World Series championship season (his last MLB appearance came on October 4 in '86), but not on the post-season roster, Gibbons earned a ring. The best bling in baseball that can't be bought.  During the Series, Gibbons served as a bullpen catcher.

Book cover. Gibby: Tales of a Baseball Lifer. Amazon
Book cover. Gibby: Tales of a Baseball Lifer. Amazon

However, several years prior to experiencing the Fall Classic atmosphere, and decades after (and still counting) there isn't much the former catcher hasn't come across on the field or influential people in the game that he hasn't met.

Now, thank goodness for a very good memory, Gibbons brings to light the good, the bad, and the laughable moments in his life.

Gibby: Tales Of A Baseball Lifer (ecwpress.com) offers an addictive 244 pages of captivating stories that include some of the game's top stars.

On the back of the book there is a happy photo of Gibbons and then Mets' starting catcher Gary Carter - dated March 1985. Gibbons was seen by many in the organization as the heir apparent to the future hall of famer that would lead the club to the championship in 1986.  A picture of innocence.  Two  happy-looking ballplayers.

To be young and athletically talented, so many in the game would fight to have the promise that the two catchers in this picture offer.  There would be pitstops for both catchers. Gibbons has found his way to now wanting to share his life.

In Gibby: Tales Of A Baseball Lifer, he tells of receiving a signing bonus with the Mets for $45,000., while two other top draft picks negotiated higher financial welcoming gifts to the organization.  According to Gibbons, Billy Beane signed for $130,000.  Darryl Strawberry became a Met for a $220,000. signed contract.  In 1980 the Mets hads three number one picks in the June draft.

Did you know that the former Toronto Blue Jays' skipper (Gibbons had two tours with the organization 2004-2008 & 2013-2018) was once offered a managerial position in the KBO (Korean Baseball Organization)?  Did you know that when the Houston Astros decided to fire their manager A.J. Hinch due to the club's sign-stealing problems, team owner Jim  Crane called Gibbons for an interview, while the fomer Toronto bench boss was in a  scouting meeting while with the Atlanta B raves' organization?

A four-hour interview followed. Details leading up to the call, the interview, and Gibbons' opinion on why he didn't get the job can be learned by reading Gibby: Tales Of A Baseball Lifer.

Toronto Blue Jays v New York Yankees
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 21: Manager John Gibbons #5 of the Toronto Blue Jays removes Marcus Stroman #6 from a game against the New York Yankees in the sixth inning at Yankee Stadium on April 21, 2018 in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Along the same train of thought, when the Boston Red Sox suspended their manager Alex Cora for the 2020 season in the same sign-stealing scandal (Cora was a coach on Hinch's staff during the 2017 season), Gibbons interviewed for the job.  What details  surrounded the interview is explained by Gibbons in his book.

My favorite (and very possibly yours as well) story dished by Gibbons involves his son Kyle.  With his family in New York City during the season for a visit, during his first tour as Toronto's skipper, Kyle asked for Derek Jeter jersey.  The then New York Yankee hero and later inductee to the National Baseball Hall of Fame, was Kyle's favorite player. Such an innocent request on the surface.

Photo courtesy of John Gibbons for TSM
Photo courtesy of John Gibbons for TSM

In Gibby: Tales Of A Baseball Lifer, how the Jeter jersey "issue" played out with Toronto's front office is just one of many interesting escapades in Gibbons' career.

It's refreshing that Gibbons demonstrates the ability to laugh at himself and life.  He is the type of person and professional that any fan could feel comfortable hanging with at their favorite sports bar.

An additional trait of Gibbons is loyalty to those who have influenced his life.  A prime example offered in Gibby: Tales Of A Baseball Lifer is when promising his Hawaiian Winter League fellow coach DeMarlo Hale, if he made it on the MLB level as a a manager, he would hire him as a coach.  Promise kept.  Learn how in the book.

Gibbons entertains in his autobiography. Read, and be ready to laugh.

Kristine Bellino, WIBX

Don Laible is a freelance sportswriter from the Mohawk Valley, now living in Florida. He has reported on professional baseball and hockey for print, radio, and on the web since the 1980's. His columns are featured weekly at WIBX950.com. Don can be contacted via email at Don@icechipsdiamonddust.com. 

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