This day in history: John Gibbons hits his first (and only) Major League home run
Photo credit:Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
2 months ago
Before John Gibbons turned his attention to roles off the field, the New York Mets decided to use their first-round selection of the 1980 MLB Draft on the right-handed hitting catcher.
Born in Montana but raised in San Antonio, Texas, Gibbons worked his way through the Minor League ladder with the Mets and eventually made his MLB Debut early into the 1984 season, a short-lived spell that also saw him miss some time on the IL with various injuries. As a big leaguer, Gibbons appeared in just 18 games across two seasons but on this day 37 years ago, the former Blue Jays manager collected his first and only Major League home run of his career.
In his fifth appearance of the 1986 season, Gibbons got the start against Bruce Ruffin and the Philadelphia Phillies. Entering that game, the Mets boasted a 97-51 record and were looking to add to the win column against a Phillies squad that was just eight games over .500. Batting seventh in the lineup that day, Gibbons was a late season callup and was doing well in the batter’s box through limited action, going 5 for 14 with two doubles.
The Texas product started the night with a single to the left side, a weak ground ball that saw him get on base. His next at-bat in the fourth inning was a double to right field while his third at-bat two innings later added another double to his stat line, a line drive to left field this time.
Entering the bottom of the eighth with a clean 3-3 on the day, Gibbons was facing rookie reliever Michael Jackson, who was brought in to replace fellow reliever Tom Hume. Pacing back and forth at the plate, Jackson delivered a low fastball to the former first-round pick, a pitch Gibbons took full advantage of as he led the inning with a no-doubt home run over the left field wall at Shea Stadium in front of 39,104 fans. With his solo homer, the Mets increased their lead by a score of 8-3 and eventually won 9-5.
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The Mets would finish the season with the best record in baseball (108-54) and eventually won the World Series, besting the Boston Red Sox through seven games. For Gibbons, the catcher would never appear in an MLB game following the 1986 campaign and formally retired in 1990, transitioning to a coaching role in the Mets organization.
The boisterous Gibbons would become the Blue Jays bullpen catcher in 2002 and eventually worked his way into the manager role after Carlos Tosca was fired in 2004. Through two different stints and parts of 11 seasons, Gibbons accumulated a 793-789 record while leading the team to two different playoff stints in 2015 and 2016 and getting ejected 53 times.
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