Jun 3, 2016

1986 World Champion Mets Reserve Catcher & Current Toronto Jays Manager: John Gibbons (1984-1986)

John Michael Gibbons was born June 8, 1962, in Great Falls, Montana. The five foot eleven, catcher known as “Gibby” was the New York Mets first round draft pick in 1980.

At the time, there were high expectations of Gibbons being the Mets catcher of the future. In 1983, he was the AA Jackson Mets co-MVP making the All Star team, hitting .298 with 18 HRs.

In 1984, he was promoted to the Mets big league squad, making his MLB debut on April 11th, 1984. Gibbons was behind the plate catching pitcher Walt Terrell as he & the Mets beat the Atlanta Braves 6-1. Overall he struggled at the plate going just 2-31 (.065) , then suffered an injury, & spent the remainder of the season at AAA Tidewater.

The Mets acquired Gary Carter in the off season and Gibbons spent all of 1985 at AAA Tidewater, batting .259 with 9 HRs & 30 RBIs.

In the Mets 1986 Championship season he played 96 games at AAA Tidewater, batting .246. He got a September call up when Carter went on the DL. In his first game back, on August 17th, he doubled & drew a walk in a 9-2 Mets win over the rival St. Louis Cardinals at Shea Stadium. Gibbons hit .474 in eight games but did not make the post season roster.

He spent time as the Mets bullpen catcher in the post season.

After the Championship season, he was back at AAA Tidewater for 1987. After eight seasons in the Mets farm system he was traded away to the Los Angeles Dodgers in April of 1988, for Craig Shipley. Injuries took a toll on him and he never made the majors again, retiring as a player in 1990.
 

Retirement: After his playing days, he immediately became a Mets minor league instructor, from 1991-1993. His minor league roommate J.P. Ricciardi became the GM of the Toronto Blue Jays and in 2002 he hired Gibbons as the Blue Jays bullpen catcher. He eventually became first base coach & in 2004, he was named the Blue Jays manager.

In his first season as manager, he brought a young team to an 82-80 record in the tough AL East. In 2006 the Blue Jays acquired some big free agents & finished in second place (87-75) their best record since their Championship year of 1993.

Drama: In May 2005, pitcher Dave Bush got publicly upset on the mound after being removed from a game. Gibbons balled out the starting pitcher in the dugout in the view of everyone. The next day Bush was sent to the minor leagues, and then soon traded to the Milwaukee Brewers.

In July 2006, Shea Hillenbrand wrote negative comments about the manager on the Blue Jays clubhouse bulletin board. Gibbons confronted him in a closed team meeting allegedly challenging him to a fight. Hillenbrand, who also has a history of troubles, was upset about his lack of playing time.

Then on a personal note, Hillenbrand stated that no one on the team, had congratulated him after he & his wife had recently adopted a child. Three days later the Blue Jays traded Hillenbrand, who was hitting .301 at the time.

Later that same year, Gibbons pulled Ted Lilly from a game after he had given up seven runs. Atfirst Lily refused to surrender the ball, and then later in the dugout tunnel, the two exchanged shoves. Two years later in 2008, Gibbons benched veteran big Frank Thomas, after he fell off to a .167 batting average.

Thomas was upset over his lack of playing time & got into a heated confrontation with Gibbons. Thomas was released the next day. 

When the Blue Jays fell out of contention in 2008, Gibbons was fired. He became the bench coach for Kansas City Royals from 2009-2011. In late 2011 he was hired as manager of the San Diego Padres AA San Antonio team.

In 2013 he was once again hired as manager of the Toronto Blue Jays, who had spent a lot of money in the off season signing & trading for some priced free agents.

The Jays added Jose Reyes, R.A. Dickey, Mark Buerle & Melkey Cabrera. The team had a slow start & injuries as well, finishing at 74-88 (.457%) fifth in the division. That year he was named coach for the AL All Star team at Citi Field by Tiger manager; Jim Leyland.

Gibbons with  Geddy Lee from RUSH
In 2014 the Jays finished at 83-79 (.512) in third place in the AL East. The Jays had their best record since the 2010 season.


Behind A.L. MVP Josh Donaldson (41 HRs 123 RBIs) & sluggers Jose Bautista (40 HRs) & Juan Encarnancion (39 HRs), pitchers Mark Buehrle (15-8) & 13 game winners Drew Hutchinson & Marco Estrada the Blue Jays won their first divisional title since 1993. They beat the Texas Rangers in the ALDS & after being behind three games to one to the Kansas City Royals they forced a Game Seven but lost.

In May of 2016 Gibbons was ejected three times in a seven game period  & served a three game suspension for arguing with umpires. In his career he has been tossed 36 times as manager. In his managerial career he is 577-565 with one post season appearance.

Family: His son Mike Gibbons is a high school football coach in Ohio.

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