Gibson named to College Football Hall of Fame
Former Michigan State wide receiver drafted by Tigers before his senior season
DETROIT -- Kirk Gibson is finally headed to the Hall of Fame -- for the gridiron.
Before Gibson embarked on a Major League Baseball career that included two memorable World Series home runs, a National League Most Valuable Player Award and a well-earned reputation as a hard-nosed player, he was an All-American wide receiver at Michigan State University. On Monday, he was recognized for the latter, named to the College Football Hall of Fame.
Gibson will be officially inducted at the Hall of Fame's annual awards dinner in December in New York. The group of 10 player inductees will be further honored next New Year's Day at the Peach Bowl in Atlanta, where the Hall of Fame is based.
"It's an incredible honor to be selected to the College Football Hall of Fame," Gibson said in a statement. "But I would be remiss if I didn't recognize all those who were there to lift me up when I was down. ... I was blessed to have dedicated and supportive family, friends, teammates and coaches. This award is in honor of all of them and significant in illustrating the power of we."
Requirements for Hall of Fame consideration include a first-team All-America selection. Gibson earned that in 1978 as part of a Spartan squad that earned a share of the Big Ten Championship and put up prolific offensive numbers. A towering target at 6-foot-3, the senior set a school record that season with 806 receiving yards, breaking the mark he set two years earlier. He was MSU's all-time leader with 112 catches, 2,347 receiving yards and 24 touchdown receptions when he ended his career. His career average of 21 yards per reception still stands as the Spartan record.
Gibson was already a first-round pick in baseball before he stepped onto the field for his senior season, having been selected by the Tigers with the 12th overall pick in the 1978 Draft. He played 54 games that summer for Class A Lakeland before returning to the gridiron.
Gibson played in the Senior Bowl after that season and was a seventh-round pick of the St. Louis Cardinals in the 1979 NFL Draft, but his path to baseball was clear. He made his Major League debut as a pinch-hitter at Tiger Stadium on Sept. 8, 1979, and never looked back.
Gibson batted .268 with an .815 OPS in 1,635 career big league games, slugging 255 home runs to go with 870 RBIs and 284 stolen bases. He won NL MVP honors in 1988, leading the Dodgers to a World Series title with help from a dramatic home run in Game 1 of the Fall Classic, his only at-bat of the series.
Gibson stayed in baseball after his playing career ended, serving as a Tigers broadcaster and coach before managing the D-backs for five years. He's one of just four Major Leaguers with an MVP and Manager of the Year Award, having won the latter in 2011.
Meanwhile, Gibson's Michigan State ties remain strong. His son, Cam, played baseball for the Spartans on his way to a pro career, becoming a fifth-round pick of the Tigers in 2015.