A familiar face came to watch the Blue Jays open up against the Astros on Friday night, as John Gibbons was there reminding us why we liked him so much.
You may not have always agreed with the way that John Gibbons ran the Toronto Blue Jays when he was the manager, but I have a hard time believing there weren’t many people that didn’t like him as a person.
There are professional athletes and even coaches that seem larger than life or even like they’re from another planet, but not good ol’ Gibby. That’s not to say that the man didn’t excel at his craft for a long time, but there was always a sense of a down-to-earth attitude from the man who served in two different tenures as the skipper of the Toronto Blue Jays.
Whether it was the relaxed attitude that he displayed in the dugout (most of the time) or the charming, yet lackadaisical way he handed the media, Gibbons had a way of making you feel like you have known him all your life, even if you’ve never met the man.
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It was clear that hasn’t changed much since last fall, as his familiar smiling face was hanging around the dugout before the game on Friday, and spent some time with the TV and radio broadcasters during the game.
The whole thing was wonderful fodder for Twitter, as there were several highlights from the visit that had me laughing and that are just vintage Gibby, especially now that he’s semi-retired.
The first image I saw was of him visiting with Charlie Montoyo before the game, and naturally, he’s relaxing with an adult beverage. There was also the photo-op with the former and current manager when Gibbons couldn’t even be bothered to come from behind the protective mesh along the baseline.
Perhaps my favourite was a quick tweet from Sportsnet’s Mike Wilner that outlined how Gibbons greeted Randal Grichuk, a player he managed last season in Toronto. Since Gibbons’ departure, Grichuk signed a 5-year, 52 million dollar extension with the Blue Jays. Gibbons made sure that Grichuk knows that he’s been keeping on things, and likely who would pick up the dinner tab if they get together this weekend by greeting him with, “Hey Moneybags!”.
There were more of course, including a quip that he hasn’t updated his resume because he doesn’t know how to spell the word. It was all a reminder of why a large portion of the fan base adored the former manager, and why the media in Toronto and around this team miss the man, even if Charlie Montoyo is a well-liked skipper in his own right.
It’s hard to say if we’ll ever see Gibby in a big league dugout again, but he has expressed interest in continuing to pursue that career if the right opportunity comes along. He was 793-789 (.501) throughout his two tenures as manager of the Blue Jays, including two trips to the ALCS. He may not have brought a World Series championship to Toronto, but he’ll always be remembered for the success that he did have, and more importantly, for being a good human being.