In a radio interview last week, Kirk Gibson’s former boss, Detroit Tigers owner Tom Monaghan, said he was still angry at the Dodgers for signing Gibson as a free agent, yet also insisted that Gibson was a “liability” and that the Tigers were a better team without him.
“We weren’t hurt by Gibson’s leaving,” Monaghan told J.P. McCarthy of WJR radio in Detroit. “We were helped defensively.”
Later the same day, the Detroit Free Press reported that Monaghan, in a speech to his Domino’s Pizza employees at company headquarters in Ann Arbor, Mich., railed against the concept of free agency and added that the Tigers were better off without Gibson--"especially in the clubhouse.”
Detroit finished second in the American League East with a record of 88-74, one game behind Boston. Los Angeles was 94-67 with Gibson on the roster, after two straight seasons at 73-89 without him.
“Los Angeles is not my favorite team in the playoffs,” Monaghan said in the radio interview.
When McCarthy said, “You can’t be mad at the Dodgers,” Monaghan’s reply was: “I am. I think it’s unethical to sign other team’s players. Every club in baseball is mad at Los Angeles.”
At the suggestion that Gibson might be the National League’s most valuable player, Monaghan reportedly bristled. “He’s a liability in the field, and his numbers aren’t that great,” Monaghan said. “How many home runs did he hit--24? 25? What’d he bat? How can anyone figure those are MVP numbers?”
Gibson batted .290 with 25 homers, 76 runs batted in and 31 stolen bases.
Before signing with the Dodgers, Gibson had been criticized by Monaghan in the Domino’s house newsletter, for his attitude and even for his appearance. Monaghan claimed on that occasion that Gibson’s scraggly beard was “a disgrace to the Tiger uniform,” although he later apologized for his remarks.
In last week’s comments at Domino’s Farms, where Monaghan, the pizza company’s founder and chairman of the board, regularly holds sessions for employees to air grievances, Monaghan said: “The Tigers will never sign another free agent. Free agents cost such astronomical prices, which in turn jacks all the salaries up and destroys the team’s morale.
At that point he added, “The Tigers were better off without Gibson this season--especially in the clubhouse.”