Michigan State and the National Football Foundation will jointly honor Gibson, a 2017 College Football Hall of Fame inductee, as the Spartans host Notre Dame.
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IRVING, Texas (Sept. 20, 2017) - Michigan State University and The National Football Foundation (NFF) & College Hall of Fame announced today that they will jointly honor Kirk Gibson with an NFF Hall of Fame On-Campus Salute, presented by Fidelity Investments. The Salute will take place this Saturday, Sept. 23, during the Spartans' game against Notre Dame. Coverage of the game will start at 8 p.m. ET on FOX.
"It's an incredible honor to be selected to the College Football Hall of Fame," Gibson said in a Michigan State release in January. "But I would be remiss if I didn't recognize all those who were there to lift me up when I was down, or those who kicked me in the [butt] when it was warranted. I was blessed to have dedicated and supportive family, friends, teammates and coaches. This award is in honor of all of them and significant in illustrating the power of we."
The NFF Hall of Fame On-Campus Salute program, which began with the inaugural class in 1951, has become a hallowed tradition, and to this day the singular events remain the first of numerous activities in each inductee's Hall of Fame experience. During the NFF Hall of Fame On-Campus Salutes, each inductee returns to his alma mater to accept a Hall of Fame plaque that will remain on permanent display at the institution. The events take place on the field during a home game, and many inductees cite the experience as the ultimate capstone to their careers, providing them one more chance to take the field and hear the crowd roar their name.
"Because of his standout baseball career, a lot of people don't remember just how great a football player Kirk Gibson was at Michigan State," said NFF President and CEO Steve Hatchell. "Having finished his career as the school's all-time leading receiver, he is more than worthy of the College Football Hall of Fame, and we are thrilled to honor him at Spartan Stadium."
Still owning the Michigan State record with 21.0 yards per catch average, Gibson finished his career as the university's record-holder for career receptions (112), touchdown receptions (24) and receiving yards (2,347), with the latter two still ranking in the top five.
A First Team All-American as a senior in 1978, Gibson helped the Spartans to a No. 12 national ranking that season and was named the Outstanding Offensive End by the New York Downtown Athletic Club. He hauled in 42 receptions for a team-high 806 yards that year, then No. 1 on the school's seasonal list, and he paced all Big Ten players in receptions (31) and receiving yards (613) in league outings.
A three-time all-conference selection, he earned first team honors after guiding Michigan State to a share of the Big Ten title in 1978. After leading the Spartans in receiving his final three years, Gibson played in the Hula Bowl and the Senior Bowl. He received the 1976 MSU Outstanding Underclassman Award and the 1978 MSU President's Award during his career, and he is a member of the Michigan State Centennial Super Squad.
Although he was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in the seventh round of the 1979 NFL Draft, Gibson chose a professional baseball career after being drafted by the Detroit Tigers in the first round of the MLB Draft. Gibson played for four teams throughout his 17 years in the MLB, winning a World Series with the Tigers in 1984 and receiving National League MVP honors in 1988. He hit one of the most memorable home runs in MLB history in Game One of the 1988 World Series for the Los Angeles Dodgers, who would go on to win the Series.
Gibson went on to serve as an MLB coach, eventually serving as manager of the Arizona Diamondbacks from 2010-14. He also served as a television analyst for the Tigers from 1998-2002, and he returned to the booth in 2015. After being diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in 2015, he established the Kirk Gibson Foundation, which is committed to raising money and awareness for neurological disorders research.
Gibson becomes the ninth Spartan player to be inducted, joining Don Coleman (1949-51), Clinton Jones (1964-66), John Pingel (1936-38), Bubba Smith (1964-66), Percy Snow (1986-89), Brad Van Pelt (1970-72), Gene Washington (1964-66) and George Webster (1964-66).
Four former Michigan State coaches are also in the Hall: Charlie Bachman (1933-46), Duffy Daugherty (1954-72), Biggie Munn (1947-53) and Muddy Waters (1980-82).
Including the 2017 class, only 987 players and 214 coaches have been inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame from the nearly 5.26 million people who have played or coached the game over the past 148 years. In other words, only two one-hundredths of a percent (.02%) of those who have set foot on the gridiron have earned the distinction. Click here for a complete list of players and coaches in the Hall.
The 2017 College Football Hall of Fame Class will be officially inducted at the 60th NFF Annual Awards Dinner at the New York Hilton Midtown on Tuesday, Dec. 5. This year's College Football Hall of Fame Class includes: Bob Crable (Notre Dame), Marshall Faulk (San Diego State), Kirk Gibson (Michigan State), Matt Leinart (Southern California), Peyton Manning (Tennessee), Bob McKay (Texas), Dat Nguyen (Texas A&M), Adrian Peterson (Georgia Southern), Mike Ruth (Boston College), Brian Urlacher (New Mexico) and coaches Danny Ford (Clemson, Arkansas), Larry Kehres (Mount Union [Ohio]) and Steve Spurrier (Duke, Florida, South Carolina). For more information on the Dinner, please contact Will Rudd at email@example.com or by calling 972.556.1000.
The inductees will also be honored at the National Hall of Fame Salute at the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl on Jan. 1, 2018, and they will take part in a series of events at the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta where their accomplishments will be forever immortalized.
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