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Happy Birthday John Gibbons

Houston Astros v Toronto Blue Jays Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

John Gibbons turns 61 today.

Gibby was the Blue Jays’ manager for eleven seasons. Well, nine full seasons, two-part seasons. The team had a 793-789 record with him at the helm. And we made it to the playoffs twice during his time.

His first stint started in August 2004, when the Jays tired of Carlos Tosca. Over the last 50 games, with Gibby pushing the buttons, we went 20-30. In the next three seasons, we finished third, second and third. In 2008 we had high hopes, but things didn’t go well. Frank Thomas started slow, got grumpy about being sat and was released. We had the two-head Mencherson monster in the outfield, and the signings of David Eckstein and Shannon Stewart turned out to be mistaken.

Deserved or not, the manager tends to take the blame when things don’t go as expected, and Cito Gaston replaced Gibbons.

Fast forward to 2013, some Farrelling jerk left us for his ‘dream job’ (didn’t that go well), and the team brought Gibby back. After several disappointing seasons, Gibbons got us back to the playoffs for the first time in over 20 years. Two years in a row, we made it to the ALCS.

Unfortunately, our team quickly got old. Two fourth-place finishes had the team looking to rebuild, and Gibbons said he wasn’t up for a rebuild. I’ll admit I think he could read the tea leaves and knew that the team would want someone new to lead the team on the field.

Gibby was fun. He was a great interview and had a folksy way about him. He didn’t bunt much, so I was happy (I had to go check. Gibbons bunted 1.6% of opportunities, and John Schneider is at 0.3% so far in his career. Thank you, John). There were moments with the bullpen that differed from what I would have liked, but find a manager that doesn’t have moments like that.

He seems a very naturally likeable fellow. It is easy to imagine having a beer with him and talking baseball. He didn’t seem to have the ego that some managers had who felt they were above being questioned on decisions. John seemed to be the type who was willing to discuss his decisions, and understand that you can have different opinions.

Gibbons is building a media presence on the internet. And he has an autobiography that I still need to read.

Before managing, John was a first-round draft pick for the Mets, but his major league career didn’t get off the ground. The Mets traded for Gary Carter (one of those moments that tested my baseball fandom), and Gary tended to play almost every day. Gibbons played 18 MLB games over two seasons.

Happy Birthday, John. I hope it is a good one.