December 07, 2011
Everyone loves a parade.
Even Gibby, apparently.
The Fiesta Bowl has acquired Kirk Gibson of the Arizona Diamondbacks, the reigning NL Manager of the Year. He will serve as grand marshal of the parade in downtown Phoenix on New Year's Eve and will participate in the pregame coin toss on Jan. 2.
As Jack Buck might put it, this is gonna be a home run — of awkwardness. Superficially, the selection makes a lot of sense, in that Gibson works in Phoenix and used to play college football for Michigan State. And he has parade experience as a player, with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1988 and Detroit Tigers in 1984 (see photo).
And yet ... I don't know Kirk Gibson other than slightly, but he's always struck me as kind of grouchy. He certainly doesn't fit the classic definition of "people person." Maybe not antisocial in a clinical sense, but in a "doesn't like to be around strangers" sort of way.
OK, OK, here's the truth: I fear him like the most disapproving gym teacher of my youth. If I somehow joined the military (where they also have parades) a Kirk Gibson-type would be my drill sergeant and I would be his Pvt. Pyle. He would tell me to jump, and I would reply: "I can't." I'm not saying it would end like the first part of "Full Metal Jacket," but that's a point of reference for you movie buffs.
And ... does he have facial muscles toned enough to smile for two hours, or however long it lasts? Not smirk. Not grin. I'm talking ear-to-ear, car dealership smile. It's a parade, for crying out loud.
Grand marshals sometimes get to ride in convertibles and wave to the nice people, but it would be better if parade organizers changed it up for Gibby. They should put a ringmaster hat on his head, hand Gibby a baton and require him to walk the route in front. He could give classic Gibby arm pumps every few hundred feet or so — which is what the people want, anyway — and limp along to remind us of his famous home run against Dennis Eckersley in the '88 World Series.
The full title of the parade might last as long as the event itself : The 41st Annual Fort McDowell Fiesta Bowl Parade presented by Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation. (Which makes me wonder: Did Fort McDowell and the Yavapai Nation always get along so well?)
Check out the history of Fiesta Bowl grand marshals. They include: Kurt Warner, Jennie Finch, Cal Ripken, Luis Gonzalez, Kerri Strug, Charles Barkley, George Brett, Chuck Yeager, Tommy Lasorda ... and now it gets weird: Vic Tayback, Doc Serverinsen, Conrad Bain, Claude Akins, Herve Villechaize. Strange? Maybe. But it's easy to imagine them smiling for two hours. Gibby? He's closer to Tayback (Mel Sharples in "Alice") but at least Tayback was an actor.
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