Kirk Gibson to auction off iconic HR bat
PHOENIX -- The image is among the most famous in baseball history: the injured Kirk Gibson barely able to walk to the plate in the ninth inning of Game 1 of the 1988 World Series, then somehow mustering the strength to hit one over the fence to give the Los Angeles Dodgers the victory.
Few baseball video clips are more familiar than that of Gibson limping around the bases, pumping his fist in triumph in front of a delirious home crowd in one of the greatest moments in Los Angeles sports history.
Twenty-two years later, Gibson will sell the bat he used and related items at auction along with his World Series trophy and his NL Most Valuable Player award from that season.
Proceeds from the sale of the World Series trophy and MVP award will go to the Kirk Gibson Foundation to support Michigan State athletics and to help fund partial scholarships at the two Michigan high schools where his parents taught.
Gibson, now manager of the Arizona Diamondbacks, said in a teleconference on Tuesday that he never considered himself a collector but found himself with "a warehouse that was just full of everything -- cars, boats, memorabilia, things I've saved."
After going through the stuff, he decided he was ready to part with the famous home run bat, batting helmet and home and road uniforms from the 1988 World Series.
The uniform he wore when he hit that home run off Oakland's Dennis Eckersley has never been washed. Why? "That's just the way it is," he said.
The bat's appearance is "unbelievable," Gibson said. "There's so much character in it."
"If you look at the handle on the end of that bat, there's an 'x' because it was a reject. I really only got it because it was so light, I was hurt, so I started to get that ready," he said. "The cleat marks at the head of the bat where I hit my shoes, there's indentations at the beginning of the bat. At the end of the bat, it was so deep, there's really deep indentations, the red ink from the foul balls I hit is on it. You can actually see the spot where I made contact with the ball. It's preserved very well."
Gibson said that he has changed his attitude about such things since his days as a two-sport star at Michigan State, then as a Major League Baseball player who could be difficult.
"My relationship with the media and fans, it's much improved," he said. "I'm going to continue to improve it. To add another group to that is the collectors. It's a huge environment. I think just as I realized that fans and media are a huge part of the game, the collectors, the people who display it, have museums, really cherish these things on a different level than I do. It's an important part of our game, keeping our game healthy."
Asked if he was auctioning off the bat and related items because he has a special need for the money, Gibson said, "That's really not an appropriate question. I don't know what that has to do with anything. No, I don't."
No one has ever found the ball Gibson hit. He said he received a photograph from a woman who said she was hit by the ball and showed a bruise on her thigh as proof. Gibson said he still has that photo but he doesn't know where.
The items will be sold by Internet auction Oct. 27-Nov. 13 by SCP Auctions, the company that sold the bat Babe Ruth used to hit his first home run at Yankee Stadium for $1.265 million and the contract of the sale of Ruth from the Boston Red Sox to the New York Yankees for $996,000.
Interestingly, none of the material from Gibson's days with the Detroit Tigers is for sale.
"I have my reasons," Gibson said. "We'll just leave it at that."
Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press