The next best thing to Kirk Gibson being the Tigers’ manager is watching him lead my local team, the Diamondbacks. He’s getting lots of attention as the Dbacks arrive in camp as 2011 marks his first full season as the club’s skipper.
The focus seems to be on how he and his staff, which includes bench coach Alan Trammell, will shape this relatively young team — Melvin Mora notwithstanding — and emphasize the positive.
In his blog today, the Arizona Republic‘s Nick Piecoro writes about how Gibby is falling in line with the organization’s new fan friendly mindset — specifically, autographs. As one whose autograph requests of Gibson as recently as three years ago (actually it was a photo request at Spring Training; I was wearing a Fungo t-shirt for crying out loud) have been spurned, this interested me:
The Diamondbacks’ daily schedule is posted on video boards in and around the clubhouse, and right there, before the day’s work is complete, is a required task for every player: sign autographs.
Diamondbacks CEO Derrick Hall loves to call his organization the most fan-friendly in baseball, but it isn’t just the front office that’s on board with the autograph policy.
There’s agreement coming from the manager’s office.
“They’ll sign every day,” Gibson said. “When the catchers are done, they’ll sign. That’s something that’s important.”
Gibson admitted to being “terrible” at signing when he was a young player but said Detroit manager Sparky Anderson convinced him of the importance of treating fans well.
“Sometimes, when we’re young, we think we’re the most important thing about the game,” Gibson said. “The reality of it is, when you leave the game, it just keeps right on going.”
Anderson’s point to Gibson: What happens if the fans leave?
“None of us would be around,” Anderson told him.
“It really is important,” Gibson said. “As good as times are right now, I went through five work stoppages. The last one was 1994 and I remember how the game was after that. We don’t want to destroy that. They’re very important. They’re great human beings and support our game of baseball. They deserve to be treated with respect as well.”
I’m heading over to the Dbacks’ new Spring Training site on Monday to watch some workouts. Do you think Gibby or Tram will agree to a photo for one of their fanboys?
What about you? Do you have any experiences with Gibson or any other big leaguer brushing off your autograph requests?