Baseball’s Former Toronto Blue Jays Skipper Embraces Tech World
Welcome, John Gibbons, to your future.
As difficult as it might be for some to comprehend, especially those not approaching retirement age, all the advantages that the world of social media offers may not be appealing. Well, not at first. For some, say if you are a professional baseball lifer born in the early 1960's, gradually being introduced to the many uses that a cell phone and a lap top computer offer other than the obvious may take time to digest.
When a friendship as along as the baseball career of former Toronto Blue Jays' manager John Gibbons that began in 1980 is tied to a lifelong marketing executive, being introduced to the likes of Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook can be a smooth transition.
For Gibbons, currently a special assignments scout with the Atlanta Braves, the move to bringing his thoughts on his baseball past and opining on the current state of the game and its players continues to be pure joy.
For parts of 11 seasons ('04-'08, '13-'18) Gibbons guided the Jays, which led to his becoming a major sports staple on the Canadian sports scene. However, after leaving the Jays' clubhouse, Gibbons, a number one draft pick of the New York Mets in 1980, returned to his home in San Antonio. Enjoying family life at a much slower pace than the daily regiment of an MLB manager, Gibbons for all intents and purposes has been "off the grid."
Enter John Arezzi. Back in 1981, when Gibbons was learning his catching craft in Class-A ball in Shelby, North Carolina, Arezzi was a roommate of his. Fast-forward to today, the former roommates are reunited, adding business associates to their friendship. Arezzi is Gibbons' manager, along with Nashville entertainment attorney Wayne Halper. Add, former general manager and head of programming for TSN in Canada Mark Milliere to the Gibbons team as the executive producer to the much anticipated podcast - The Gibby Show expected to be launched later this month, and the sports universe just became a little more crowded.
"Because of the podcast launch and spring 2023 release of his book, we knew Gibby needed to be on social media, and with a little bit of convincing he gave it the thumbs up," said Arezzi earlier this week. "I set up his accounts on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, and he took to it pretty quickly. And he's having fun with it. Gibby has over 30,000 followers in little more than a week. He tweets at all hours and it's so much fun to watch."
There so much to learn from Gibbon's perspective on baseball. Putting in 11 minor league seasons hardened the catching prospect to the realities of what the less attractive side of professional ball offers, but there is a bright side to all the memories of the long bus rides.
Over parts of two seasons ('84 and '86), Gibbons logged 18 games as a New York Met. He has a World Series championship ring to remind himself of the highest of highs the game has up for grabs.
Getting to know about that magical Mets club of '86, or any part of his multiple decades in the game takes some coaxing from Gibbons.
"I've always been kind of a blunt guy, and not always politically correct," explains Gibbons during a phone conversation recently from his home in Texas. "I consider myself a straight shooter, but I know to be careful in what I say."
As Gibbons opens up more about baseball and those who are driving the game today, he promises not to take shots at people for the sake of growing numbers to his multiple media platforms.
It's clear as Gibbons reflects on his career he misses his friends scattered throughout North America. Reconnecting with many through social media is a beginning to Gibbon's re-emergence to baseball. Perhaps by putting himself out in the social universe when managerial positions open, Gibbon's name may become more recognized by front office executives.
This isn't a topic that Gibbons initiates. But, by increasing his public profile, the odds of having his name circulating for job openings beyond his current position with Atlanta has to go up. There has been interest in recent years for Gibbons to return to the dugout. Job openings with the Houston Astros and Boston Red Sox would have been two ideal places for him to land. Things didn't work out as had hoped but he remains positive.
The return of Buck Showalter to the game as the Mets' manager, after working as an analyst at MLB Network for three years, motivates Gibbons that his time in the clubhouse isn't over.
"I've always been a fan of baseball, and feel very lucky to have had a chance to manage. It's an easy game to follow," Gibbons tells.
Since being cut loose by Toronto in 2018, Gibbons admits to having stopped watching the game. Gibbons needed a break from baseball, to get away, and now this attitude has passed.
The possibilities for a return to a high profile position in baseball for Gibbons increases with every tweet, post, opinion, and observation conveyed for an audience that increases daily. And the best part - they are being executed with a smile from a couch in San Antonio.
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Don Laible is a freelance sportswriter from the Mohawk Valley, now living in Florida. He has reported on professional baseball and hockey for print, radio, and on the web since the 1980's. His columns are featured weekly at WIBX950.com. Don can be contacted via email at Don@icechipsdiamonddust.com.