Arizona Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson comes across as a hard nose, old school ball player; and he is. He is also so much more once you get the occasional glimpse behind the stalwart demeanor and brusk tone.
Gibby is as tough as they come physically but in his thinking about teams and organizations he's surprisingly (and refreshingly) caring, deep and very modern.
Just hours after celebrating his first National League West pennant as a manager and still sounding tired and bit horse from a long night, Gibson was back at work and taking questions from the media.
I asked Gibson if there was a different kind of pride as the manager of the team versus what he experienced as a player on clubs whose seasons ended doused in champagne. His answer struck me as a rare peek into the man behind the hard face and stern glare.
"I would just say, overall I'm a giver and the joy that I get out of it is that I can give what I give and that these guys could get to experience the things that I felt made me happy and fun, and gave me a sense of accomplishment, and taught me how to set goals and see it through, and how to be a teammate, to understand how it brings cities and fans together," he said before making it clear that he doesn't consider the mission accomplished.
"So, it's a really, really good feeling and that's why I do it. That's what makes me feel good that they got to feel a piece of it. There's so much more though and so hopefully I can contribute to us experiencing even better times."
Look to Kirk Gibson if you want to know how the Diamondbacks did the unthinkable in the summer of 2011 and how this collection of players outperformed their statistically predicted levels of performance. WAR and xFIP have nothing on a leader who understands the value of a winning culture and in this case, what it takes to build and sustain "The Diamondback Way".
Gibson doesn't seek the attention but he will surely and deservedly receive it when the NL Manager of the Year Award ends up on his shelf...or more likely finds a home in a closet.