Arizona Diamondbacks Manager Kirk Gibson Named Grand Marshal of 41st Annual Fort McDowell Fiesta Bowl Parade Presented by Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation

SCOTTSDALE, AZ – National League Manager of the Year Kirk Gibson of the Arizona Diamondbacks will serve as the grand marshal of the 41st Annual Fort McDowell Fiesta Bowl Parade presented by Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation, at 11:00 a.m. MST on December 31, 2011 in central Phoenix.

As grand marshal, Gibson will lead this year’s Fort McDowell Fiesta Bowl Parade and will serve as special guest at the 41st Annual Tostitos Fiesta Bowl on Monday, January 2, 2012, where he will participate in the pre-game festivities and the coin toss. 

Although he is best known for his stellar baseball career, Gibson has strong ties to college football; he was a record-setting wide receiver at Michigan State in the 1970s.

“We are honored to have Kirk Gibson serve as this year’s Fort McDowell Fiesta Bowl Parade grand marshal,” said Fiesta Bowl Chairman of the Board Duane Woods. “Under Kirk’s leadership, the 2011 Diamondbacks made all Arizonans proud and brought the national spotlight to our state. The fact he was also a standout college football player at Michigan State makes him an ideal person to lead our Parade and help us celebrate Arizona’s Centennial.”

It’s a fitting end to a big year for Gibson, who was named 2011 N.L. Manager of the Year by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, the Sporting News and the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. Gibson led the upstart Diamondbacks to a 94-68 record and their fifth N.L. West Division title last season. According to Elias Sports Bureau, Gibson is the first manager to take his team to the playoffs in his first full season after the team finished in last place the previous year.

"I'm honored by the opportunity to represent the D-backs organization, the Fiesta Bowl, Arizona, Phoenix and the fans on a national stage,” Gibson said. “I am looking forward to the opportunity for my family and me to be involved in such a great game and week of festivities as well as interacting with so many outstanding people during the holiday season."

Gibson is the latest in a long line of baseball figures who have led the Fiesta Bowl Parade as grand marshal. The list and their parade year follows.

Hall of Famers                                  World Series Champions
Tommy Lasorda (1985)                       1989 Oakland Athletics (1989)
George Brett (1993)                            Luis Gonzalez (2001)
Ryne Sandberg (1997)                       Mark Grace (2007)
Cal Ripken Jr. (2002)

Gibson is known for one of the most memorable moments in American sports history – his pinch-hit, game-winning homer off Oakland relief ace Dennis Eckersley in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series. The blast sparked the Los Angeles Dodgers’ five-game Series victory. Gibson earned NL MVP honors that season.

A native of Michigan, Gibson also played an integral role in Detroit’s 1984 World Series title, delivering a clutch homer off San Diego closer Goose Gossage.

Gibson batted .268 with 255 home runs, 870 RBI and 284 stolen bases during a distinguished 17-year playing career with the Detroit Tigers (1979-87, ‘93-95), Los Angeles Dodgers (1988-90), Kansas City Royals (1991) and Pittsburgh Pirates (1992).

Gibson also excelled on the gridiron as a 6-2, 210-pound receiver for the Michigan State Spartans. He earned first-team all-Big Ten and first-team all-America honors as a senior while helping lead the Spartans to a share of the 1978 Big Ten championship.

He led the Spartans in receptions for three straight seasons (1976-78) and closed his career as MSU's all-time leader in receptions (112), receiving yards (2,347) and touchdown receptions (24). His career average of 21.0 yards per catch still ranks first on MSU’s all-time list.

The Parade’s theme is “Spirit of the Southwest,” and this year it will help kick off Arizona’s Centennial celebration. The Parade, a Valley staple during the holiday season, annually celebrates the unique cultural heritage and beautiful desert landscapes of Arizona. The Parade is free to the public, but reserved seating is available for $25 through the Fiesta Bowl Ticket Office at 480-350-0911 or by visiting www.fiestabowl.org

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