Former MLB star and Coach will talk about his experience & current challenge of his Parkinson’s diagnosis

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich., February 8, 2016 – Kirk Gibson, a former professional baseball player and manager will be the featured speaker at the 10th Annual West Michigan Sports Commission Luncheon on Wednesday, May 4, 2016 at 12 p.m. (noon).  The luncheon will be held in the International Ballroom of the JW Marriott Hotel, 235 Louis Campau Promenade NW.


As a player, Gibson was an outstanding outfielder who batted and threw left-handed. He spent most of his career with the Detroit Tigers but also played for the Los Angeles Dodgers, Kansas City Royals, and Pittsburgh Pirates.  Gibson played as the regular right fielder for the Detroit Tigers from 1983 to 1987. He helped the Tigers win the 1984 World Series. He became a free agent after the 1985 season, but re-signed with the Tigers and in 1987 helped them to win the American League East by one game over the Blue Jays in an enthralling divisional race.  Detroit lost the 1987 American League Championship Series to the eventual World Champion Twins.


Kirk Gibson’s memorable moments to major league baseball fans include the homerun hit off a Goose Gossage fastball in Game 5 of the 1984 World Series in old Tiger Stadium and another homerun rip off Dennis Eckersley in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series in Dodger Stadium.


Following his retirement as a player, he spent five seasons as a television analyst in Detroit, then became a coach for the Tigers in 2003. He became the Diamondbacks’ bench coach in 2007, and was promoted to interim manager in 2010 following the midseason dismissal of A. J. Hinch. On October 4, 2010, the Diamondbacks removed the “interim” label, naming Gibson their manager for the 2011 season.  Gibson left the role of manager in September of 2014.


“We are very excited to have Kirk Gibson as the guest speaker for our 10th Annual Luncheon,” stated Mike Guswiler, President of the West Michigan Sports Commission.  “Kirk is beloved in the hearts of so many MSU and Tiger’s fans in the state of Michigan and embodies the excitement, determination and grit that we love as sports enthusiasts”.


“His recent diagnosis with Parkinson’s disease and how he has met it head on to fight this debilitating disease and help find a cure, continues to show that grit and determination he’s known for.” Guswiler added.


The West Michigan Sports Commission Annual Luncheon is sponsored again this year through the support of Steelcase, Inc.; Smith, Haughey, Rice & Roegge; Swift Printing & Communications and DP Fox.  Our guest speaker is underwritten through the generosity of the Secchia Family. As with past years, this luncheon serves as a fundraiser as well as a progress report to our stakeholders on the success of the organization; promoting and hosting youth and amateur sporting events in the region for economic enhancement, healthy living and creating a vibrant community through sport.


“In the more than nine years since our inception, the WMSC has helped secure or support more than 500 youth and amateur sporting events, which will contribute well over $200 million in direct visitor spending in West Michigan,” said Guswiler. “We want to set a path for future sporting endeavors, yet also celebrate our successes as we have always done at this annual event.”


As in past years, thanks to Meijer, Inc. we will again be reaching out to area high school athletic directors and coaches to attend our luncheon as guests of our Meijer Coaches Corner.


Reservations can be made by contacting Natalie Rose at (616) 608-1836 or  A table of eight is $650, and single tickets are $90 per person. Luncheon information is also available online at


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