Gibbons comes from the same town as former MLB catcher Jerry Grote: San Antonio. They used to work out together.
- In 1980, the Mets drafted John in the first round, out of MacArthur H.S. in San Antonio, Texas.
- In 1983, he was fifth in the TL in slugging percentage (.515) and was an All Star.
In 1985, he was an International League All Star and had highest fielding percentage (.990).
In 1986, he led International League catchers in fielding percentage (.993) for the second year in a row.
In December 1988, he signed by Rangers as six-year free agent.
In 1990, he signed with the Phillies as a six-year free agent.
John worked as a pool salesman during the offseason before the 1991 season.
- Gibbons became a father for the third time during the 1999 season.
Gibbons is known as a loose personality—a man who knows how to have fun even when he is working hard. He is quick with a quip and a smile.
Blue Jays G.M. J.P. Ricciardi has known John since they roomed together with the Class A Shelby (N.C.) Mets in 1981, the year after Ricciardi signed with that organization as an undrafted free agent infielder. (They called Shelby "Hell-Be.")
Gibbons and Ricciardi shared a small house with another player, Mike Hennessey, and a team official, John Alexander (then John Arezzi), a music aficionado who, to his roommates' amusement, often would boast that he found the next great singer at some backwoods North Carolina watering hole—until one day that year it actually happened. He discovered the singer Patty Loveless, quit the Mets, and moved to Nashville to become a successful entertainment manager.
The house they all shared that summer had only one bed, so the four of them stuck to a nightly rotation: "Bed-couch-floor-floor," Gibbons recalled.
The next year at Shelby, John roomed with budding Mets prospects and bon vivants Lenny Dykstra and Roger McDowell.
Later, at Double-A Jackson, Gibbons and Billy Beane played together in 1982 and 1983, becoming fast friends.
"One thing people don't know about Billy is that he always wanted a raccoon as a pet," Gibbons says. "I have no idea why. So one day in instructional league in Florida, we drove out to some God-forsaken place in a rural area and Billy buys this raccoon and brings it back with him in a cage. It must have been only four days later when he said, 'This is not going to work.' And that was the end of having a pet raccoon. Not one of his better ideas." (Tom Verducci - Sports Illustrated - 10/12/15)
|Home:||San Antonio, Texas||Team:||BLUE JAYS|
|Birth City:||Great Falls, Montana|
|Draft:||Mets #1 - 1980 - Out of high school (TX)|
PLAYING CAREER NOTES
- A catcher, he moved well behind the plate and had an excellent arm. Gibbons played a hard, aggressive game on defense.
His catching career started the way a lot of catching careers start: when his Little League coach asked for a volunteer, every other kid on the team stepped back, but John stepped forward. "First day I got back there in Little League, a kid took a swing and hit me in the head with the bat," John said. "I knew that was the position for me."
NEVER A STAR PLAYER
- John was not a real bad hitter. And he had some pop. But it really was his bat that kept him from being established in the Majors. John says of his playing career: "It never worked out."
- John doesn't have much of an ego. He poses no excuses for not having much of a Major League career.
Of his pro career, Gibbons said, "I climbed through the system pretty fast, but once I got in the big leagues I struggled with the bat. I lost confidence and never got it back."
His 1984 season included a broken cheek bone and an elbow injury.
- John had one incredible day at Shea Stadium: a 4-for-4 with a double and his only MLB homer.
"I didn't have a long career, but it was something pretty special," he said. "I had a good relationship with the pitching staff and stayed with the team through the World Series. I wasn't on the roster, but I caught them in the bullpen. It was a great reward. Roger McDowell and Jesse Orosco were fun-loving guys, clowns. I was there when Dwight Gooden burst onto the scene, and for the Strawberry controversies."
In the 1980 draft, Gibbons was one of three first-round picks by the Mets; the others were Darryl Strawberry and Billy Beane, the future GM of the A's.
Four years later, at age 22, Gibbons was on the verge of winning the starting catcher job in spring training, only to lose it in the last week of camp when a runner threw an elbow at him, breaking his cheekbone. John returned to the job in April, only to lose it again with a 1-for-25 slump that ended with a torn ligament in his elbow.
Gibbons is driven as much by his failures as a No. 1 prospect back in his playing days when he didn't become the best that he could be after being a first-round pick of the New York Mets in 1980.
"Then reality hits you," Gibbons said. "I was excited and figured they're going to invest money in me, they like me and I've got a chance to play in the big leagues."
At 17, he was full of confidence and the world was his to conquer.
"I set some goals. I told myself in four years I'm going to be in the big leagues, and sure enough when I was 21 I got there," he said. "Up to that point I never really struggled, it was all going pretty good. Then when I got to New York I had an injury to start the season, got off to a slow start, and I just lost my confidence."
It was as simple as that.
"I didn't know how to react," Gibbons said. "I'd never been through something like that. Everybody and their brother had advice for me and if you don't regroup fast you disappear, which is basically what happened to me. It chewed me up and you lose what comes naturally to you. Eventually I asked for a trade (he went to the Los Angeles Dodgers), bounced around a couple of years, and, by then, I had had enough."
Those rough-and-tumble times and long hours of soul searching left scars that have helped him in his second career as a manager.
"I don't know if it means I can do things better (as a manager), but I tell you I have more patience," he said. "I think I understand a little more what it takes to make it (as a pro baseball player). I understand you shouldn't give up on guys too soon or if you push guys when they're not ready, you may lose them. You can't jump ship every time they struggle." (Mike Rutsey-Toronto Sun-1/21/06)
In 1984, When Gibbons flopped with the bat his rookie year, the Mets went out and got Gary Carter. "Breaking balls weren't good to me," John says.
In 1986, John resurfaced briefly with the Mets as an August call-up from the minors. The Mets kept him around that fall as a bullpen catcher, which is how Gibbons came to be warming up Dwight Gooden in the pen as Mookie Wilson came to the plate against Boston pitcher Bob Stanley with the Red Sox leading by a run in the 10th inning of Game 6.
"So, I'm catching Doc, in case the game is tied," Gibbons said. "And the mounted police are lined up on their big old horses right there in the bullpen, looking out on the field. They're getting ready to keep people off the field, if Boston wins.
"Well, every time Doc hits my mitt—and you know how hard he could throw—pow!—those horses would jump. They were right by me, no more than from here to that wall (about 10 feet away). I've got one eye on Doc and one eye on the horses. They kept jumping every time he hit my mitt. It was a little scary. But you know what? It was a thrill to be a part of that."
The Mets rallied to win Game 6 and the Game 7, of course, and Gibbons was awarded a world championship ring.
- Gibbons is an understanding, tolerant baseball man. Players love him. They describe him as a tough, fatherly figure who knows baseball and gets the most out of his players
- Scott Hunter, who played for him for three years, said, "He treats you like a man if you act like a man. But if you act like a kid, watch out. He's the type of guy you don't want to disappoint. If you don't work, you'll hear about it."
- John is a manager that players are comfortable around.
Gibbons says that two of his main sources for advice, Chuck Hiller and Darrell Johnson, both died within a few months of each other in 2004.
"Chuck was my first manager in rookie ball," Gibbons said. "When I got into coaching with the Mets, he was like an advisor. Back in the '80s with the Mets, Johnson was Frank Cashen's right-hand man. He had an apartment in Norfolk, so he'd watch our team all the time and communicate with Cashen."
POST-PLAYING CAREER POSITIONS
- 1991-1993: John was the Mets roving catching instructor in the minor leagues.
- 1994: Coach at Capital City (SAL-Mets).
- 1995: Manager at Kingsport (APP-Mets).
- 1996-1997: Manager at St. Lucie (FSL-Mets).
- 1998: Moved up to Binghamton (EL-Mets) as Manager.
- 1999-2001: He moved up to Norfolk (IL-Mets) as Manager.
- 2002: John became the bullpen coach for the Blue Jays.
- 2004: Gibbons was the first base coach for the Blue Jays.
August 8, 2004: Gibbons replaced Carlos Tosca as Manager of the Blue Jays, on an interim basis.
But on October 4, 2004, the Jays officially named John Manager for 2005.
- April 28, 2005: Toronto extended Gibbons' contract through the 2007 season, giving Gibbons plenty of room to quip. His contract was for $500,000 per season. Blue Jays G.M. J.P. Ricciardi confirmed that fact and said Gibbons has more leeway than either Buck Martinez or Carlos Tosca, the two previous Jays skippers.
"Look, guys, you've got to throw the first group out the window. That wasn't my choice," Ricciardi said. "The second group was my choice, and I think I'm more on the same page with Gibby than I was with Carlos Tosca. That's not a knock on Carlos—I just think Gibby has a better understanding of some of the things we've talked about as a group. Plus, I've known Gibby longer. I've known him since I was 20 years old. That relationship's a lot different."
The GM made it clear that he wasn't giving preferential treatment to his friends. He was just showing some confidence in the man he wants to manage his team.
2008: John signed a one-year contract extension for $650,000 with the Jays.
June 20, 2008: Gibbons was fired by the Blue Jays with Cito Gaston replacing him as Manager.
October 13, 2008: The Royals hired Gibbons to serve as bench coach under manager Trey Hillman.
John stayed on when Ned Yost became Manager. But at the end of the 2011 season, Yost let Gibbons (and pitching coach Bob McClure) go in a minor shakeup of the Royals' coaching staff.
November 10, 2011: Gibbons signed with the Padres organization to be manager at San Antonio (TL).
November 20, 2012: John returned to the Blue Jays as their manager for 2013. He received a two-year contract.
- April 1, 2017: Gibbons was rewarded for a pair of back-to-back trips to the ALCS with a contract extension. Toronto officially signed Gibbons to a two-year contract extension. His two-year deal will kick in at the end of the 2017 season and it also includes a club option for 2020. (G Chisolm - MLB.com - April 1, 2017)
In 1984, his rookie year with the Mets, John was plagued by injuries
On March 26, at the Mets' old spring training home in St. Pete, Gibbons sustained a displaced fracture of the left cheekbone when Joe Lefebvre of the Phils slid home.
Then, after being activated on April 10, he was placed on the D.L. again on May 5 after straining his right elbow.