Nonprofits, Sports Business, and Travel & Tourism

Sports commission hosts Kirk Gibson for fundraiser

February 9, 2016
| By Pat Evans |
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Kirk Gibson
Kirk Gibson. Courtesy West Michigan Sports Commission

A Detroit Tigers legend will headline a Grand Rapids event this spring.

Kirk Gibson, a 17-year Major League Baseball player and former manager of the Arizona Diamondbacks, will speak at the 10th-annual West Michigan Sports Commission Luncheon on May 4 at the JW Marriott hotel in downtown Grand Rapids.

Gibson will speak about his professional experiences, as well as the challenges of his recent diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease.

The luncheon serves as a fundraiser and progress report for the nonprofit West Michigan Sports Commission, or WMSC.

A table of eight can be reserved for $650, while single tickets are $90.

“Kirk is beloved in the hearts of so many MSU and Tigers fans in the state of Michigan and embodies the excitement, determination and grit that we love as sports enthusiasts,” said Mike Guswiler, president, WMSC.

“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.”

Gibson's career

In his 17 seasons with the Tigers, Los Angeles Dodgers, Kansas City Royals and Pittsburgh Pirates, Gibson won two World Series titles and hit 255 home runs with a .268 batting average.

He was the 1988 National League Most Valuable Player and the 1984 American League Champion Series MVP.

Following his playing career, he spent five years as a TV analyst for the Tigers, before becoming a coach for the franchise in 2003. He then moved to become bench coach for the Diamondbacks in 2007 and was promoted to interim manager in 2010, before becoming manager for the 2011-2014 seasons.

He won National League Manager of the Year in 2011.

Sports impact on region

Last month, the WMSC released its economic impact numbers for 2015, which included 86 events attracting more than 114,000 athletes to the region for direct visitor spending of $39 million.

“With nine years under our belt in attracting youth and amateur sporting events to the region, we continue to win new events that draw dollars and visitors to the region,” Guswiler said. “And we don’t see this momentum slowing any time soon. In fact, it will increase as more niche sporting events are created.” 

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