PHOENIX — Arizona Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson said he has to treat the Tigers like any other club his team is facing, but he did admit to having a “soft spot” in his heart for his former team.
Gibson played for the Tigers in 1979-87 and again in 1993-95. He also was a television analyst for the Tigers and later a bench coach under former Tigers teammate Alan Trammell, who is his bench coach with the Diamondbacks.
“They’re a good club, we know that,” Gibson said of the Tigers before Monday’s game at Chase Field. “They’re in first place. They’re loaded. I follow the Tigers because I was a Tiger fan growing up as a young boy. Still have season tickets there since about 1980. When we’re not in the playoffs and they are, I go to the games.”
Gibson said he also follows first-year Tigers manager Brad Ausmus.
“At the same time, I’d like to beat their butt, just like we wanted to beat the Cubs yesterday,” Gibson said Monday.
Asked if his relationship with the Tigers is damaged at all, Gibson said the biggest issue he had with the Tigers was when former owner Tom Monaghan called him “a disgrace” to the uniform.
“Other than that, I’ve had no conflicts,” he said. “They’ve been great. They’ve been generous to me. … I know Dave (Dombrowski) is an excellent president and GM. I tend to pull for them, except for today, tomorrow and the next day. I follow the feedback, the comments, and I wish people would get on one end of the rope and just pull with Brad and the team. They’ve got great players, very strong. They’ve got a great front office. They’ve got a great owner. It’s going to be tough to win a world championship, whether it’s us or them. You’re going to get knocked down several times. You just have to have the resolve to get up. Sometimes you gotta help each other up.”
Gibson said he gets frustrated because people are too critical sometimes.
When Gibson was asked why Monaghan called him a disgrace, Gibson said: “It’s a long story.”
He went on to explain that when the Tigers won the World Series in 1984, he dumped champagne on Monaghan in the locker room.
“He gave me a really dirty look,” Gibson said of Monaghan.
Gibson said a year after he went to the Dodgers, Monaghan called and apologized and asked if he wanted to have lunch.
“I said, ‘I appreciate the comment, hopefully you did learn from that, no need for lunch. Best of luck. Move on.’ ”
Gibson said he couldn’t place all the blame on Monaghan, though.
“I was a jerk,” Gibson said. “He was a half right. I wasn’t a disgrace to the uniform, but I was crazy.”