Kirk Gibson diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease
The absence of Kirk Gibson from recent Tigers broadcasts was noticeable, and now the reason is known. The former Tigers great has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, according to a statement released through Fox Sports Detroit, who hired him this spring as an analyst.
“I have faced many different obstacles in my life, and have always maintained a strong belief that no matter the circumstances, I could overcome those obstacles,” Gibson said in the statement. “While this diagnosis poses a new kind of challenge for me, I intend to stay true to my beliefs. With the support of my family and friends, I will meet this challenge with the same determination and unwavering intensity that I have displayed in all of my endeavors in life. I look forward to being back at the ballpark as soon as possible.”
Gibson, who will turn 58 years old next month, rejoined Fox Sports Detroit as a game analyst after five seasons managing the Arizona Diamondbacks. He was scheduled to work about 60 games on television alongside play-by-play man Mario Impemba, allowing him to follow his son Cam, an outfielder at Michigan State.
Gibson teamed with Impemba and Rod Allen in a three-man booth for Opening Day, but hadn’t been on the air since. He was believed to have been scheduled to work part of last week’s Tigers homestand, but was replaced by Allen in the booth. He was also absent when former teammate Lou Whitaker received the Detroit Tigers African American Legacy Award last weekend.
Gibson underwent a series of tests recently that revealed the disease, according to the statement. Parkinson’s is a degenerative neurological disorder that affects one in 100 people over age 60, but can be diagnosed in people as young as 18, according to the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research. Various estimates tab anywhere from 500,000 to a million people in the United States affected by the disease. Its impacts include shaking, stiffness and difficulty with balance and coordination.
Fox Sports Detroit announced that it will welcome Gibson back as his treatment permits.
Like many who have been affected by Parkinson’s, Gibson was a picture of health as a player. A two-sport standout at Michigan State, he was a first-round draft pick of the Tigers in 1978 and spent 12 of his 17 Major League seasons in Detroit. He hit 27 home runs for the 1984 world champion Tigers, and hit two home runs in Game 5 of the World Series, helping clinch what remains the Tigers’ last title.
Gibson went on to win National League MVP honors with the Dodgers in 1988, and came off the bench to hit one of the most memorable home runs in World Series history that fall, beating Dennis Eckersley.
Gibson finished with a .268 average, 255 home runs and 870 RBIs in 1635 career games. He rejoined the Tigers as a coach from 2003 to 2005 under teammate turned manager Alan Trammell.