Gibson, Dodgers to raise funds for Parkinson's
'88 World Series hero to throw out first pitch Opening Day
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Kirk Gibson will throw out the first pitch at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on Opening Day, which Gibson hopes will begin a season that will end Los Angeles' 30-year World Series drought. You might remember that Gibson had something to do with the last title the Dodgers won.
Gibson said the throw won't be pretty. He was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease three years ago, months after his stint as the D-backs' manager ended, and he spends much of his time raising funds for his foundation that is committed to fighting the disease.
Gibson's appearance at the opener on March 29 is part of such fundraising, in partnership with the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation. In addition to auctioning 88 of his bobbleheads (which will be given out to fans on March 30) and game-worn jerseys, Gibson announced that the landing area of his epic home run against Oakland -- which he said he always calls "Seat 88" (actually Section 302, Row D, Seat 1) -- will be painted blue, autographed and available for purchase for $125 per ticket ($300 for the pair, including a $150 donation to the Kirk Gibson Foundation). A commemorative T-shirt is included in the all-you-can-eat package.
While Gibson said watching the home run "still gives me goosebumps," he can't wait for the next Dodger to top it and etch his name into history. That's why he texted congratulations to Justin Turner after his walk-off homer in Game 2 of this past season's National League Championship Series.
"I remember years ago telling Matt Kemp that I was sure he's tired of seeing that home run, and I encouraged him to top it," said Gibson. "Over time, you realize the impact it had on the game and its place in history with the fans and the city. We all got humbled by that home run. But if I can do it, others can. I'm not invincible."
The 60-year-old Gibson said his legendary home run -- hit while he was virtually immobilized by injuries to his right hamstring and left knee -- is only one of life's lessons that help drive him in his daily management of the disease and the mission of helping others deal with it.
"It didn't hurt my confidence, I'll tell you that," Gibson said of the home run's lingering motivation. "I believe I can beat [the disease] and help others believe they can beat it. Together, we can beat it."
Gibson said if he's too active, he feels the effects, and if he's not active enough, he gets antsy. He's focused on "trying to be a good dad, enjoy my friends and family, maintain my business interests and enjoy life."
Gibson will work 66 games as a commentator on the radio broadcast team for the Tigers, where he won his first World Series in 1984.
But on Opening Day, Gibson will be a Dodger again, reconnecting with fans that still get those goosebumps every time the home run is replayed, honoring the many teammates that took the miraculous ride with him in 1988.
"Winning the World Series, it's not an easy thing to do," Gibson said. "Everybody's trying to. Last year I thought [the Dodgers would] finally do it. I hope I'm the guy that throws out the first pitch for their championship season. Maybe I'll get a ring."