A native of Pontiac Michigan, and a Michigan State college football All-American, Kirk Gibson was one of the top baseball stars during the 1980s. Although plagued by injuries throughout his career, he helped the Tigers win the 1984 World Series and was the batting star for the 1988 World Champion Los Angeles Dodgers. The endless hustling, muscular, 6-ft, 3-inch, 215-pounder was only 22-years-old as the 1980 season began, and was leading Detroit with nine homers when he injured his left wrist on June 7th which required surgery in August and he missed the rest of the year.
For the 1981 Detroit Tigers, Gibson hit .328 and was voted the Player of the Week twice. In 1982 he played just 69 games due to injuries to his left knee, calf and left wrist, and he was out-of-action from July 15th on. After missing most of the 1983 season due to arthroscopy knee surgery on April 10, Gibson's spectacular hustling and winning attitude quickly made him a fans favorite in the Motor City. In 1984, he appeared in a career-high 149 games, blasted 23 doubles, 10 triples, 27 homers, scored 92 times and batted in 91 runs (RBIs), stole 29 bases, while hitting .282, to become the first Tiger player to steal over 20 bases and hit over 20 home runs in the same season. In the 1984 World Series final game (Game 5) Gibson clubbed a pair of homers. He hit a two-run homer in the first inning and a three-run shot in the final Tiger inning.
As strong as a year as Gibson had in 1984, he put-together better numbers in 1985. He became one of few players in baseball history to hit one onto the roof in old Comiskey Park in a game against the ChiSox on May 10, and on June 4th hit the light tower in right-field in Detroit, lined a homer off the wall in the lower deck bleachers in Yankee Stadium on June 16, then powered a shot onto the right-field roof in Tiger Stadium on August 3, 1985. For the year, Gibson batted .287, lined 37 doubles, 5 triples, 29 homers, scored 96 times, and had 97 RBIs.
After playing eight years in Detroit, Gibson signed as a free-agent in 1988 with the LA Dodgers, and, with his hustling all-around play immediately became popular with Dodgers fans. During the regular season he batted a solid .290, lined 28 doubles, 25 homers, walked 73 times, stole 31 bases, had 76 runs batted in, and scored a team leading 106 runs. In the 1988 NLCS he rocketed two homers, including a game ending 12th inning yard-shot off Mets relief ace Roger McDowell in Game 4. And, unable to start Game 1 of the 1988 World Series because of a knee injury, he was called in to pinch-hit in the bottom of the 9th. and brought Dodgers fans to their feet by hitting a hard liner, walk-off homer into the right-field against Oakland off Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley on a 1-2 pitch-count. An image of Gibson limping while circling the bases and raising his hand after the homer became the top athletic circulated picture of the decade. Gibson was unable to play in the rest of the World Series, none-the-less the Dodgers took the Series 4 games to 1.