Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local Sports

January 15, 2013

MARK MAYNARD: Gibson will take spot on Portsmouth mural wall

GRAYSON — Greg Gibson was reluctant at first to accept being put on the Portsmouth baseball mural wall.

It wasn’t that the current major league umpire wasn’t flattered with the offer but he didn’t seem worthy.

Being placed beside area baseball greats like Don Gullett, Al Oliver, Larry Hisle, John Stephenson, Gene Tenace, Gene Bennett and even Branch Rickey, among others, can humble a person in a hurry.

Gibson wasn’t really from the Portsmouth area, growing up down the road in Ashland.

But family matters. That was a lesson his wife, Michelle, drove home to him.

“Being the wise wife she is, she told me ‘This isn’t for you, this is for family.’”

With that, Greg Gibson agreed and on Wednesday he’ll be recognized along with Pat Borders during the Portsmouth Murals Baseball Banquet, an annual affair that always attracts a Hall of Fame audience to the river town.

“Gene (Bennett) called my dad (Acie Gibson) and told him ‘We want to do this for Greg,’” Gibson said.

Acie Gibson is from the Portsmouth area and was pastor of the New Boston Church of God for 17 years. He and his wife Joyce are beloved in throughout the area and sons Greg and Barry, both Rose Hill Christian School graduates, have made them proud.

But the family ties don’t end there.

Gibson said he did some research on the floodwall that will bear his image and understands it was built after the 1937 flood that devastated river towns.

“It came during the depression and was built for safety and to stimulate jobs and the economy,” he said. “That’s the very floods that may have taken some of my family member’s lives. My grandparents went through this. That meant something.”

He also did it to honor his parents, who were dedicated to that community for so many years.

“They stood with friends on the best days and stood on the worst days,” he said. “They gave a lot. My dad is 100 percent a pastor. He put a lot of heart and soul to that community. He started the National Day of Prayer Day for quite a few years.”

Said Gibson: “It also will mean a lot to his boys and someday my grandkids will see that.”

At the end of the day, it will also be very special to this outstanding Major League umpire. He has been call in the big leagues for 15 years. He grew up in Ashland but spent many summer days with his grandparents in Franklin Furnace, Ohio.

It was Gibson’s grandfather, a diehard Reds’ fan, who got him interested in baseball. He played Little League in Ashland for Frank Rolen.

Now, he’s going up on the murals beside a special collection of baseball greats. Incredibly enough, he will be the second umpire — the first one was South Shore native Terry Craft.

Craft and Gibson never called regular season games together although they did work once in spring training, Greg remembered.

Gibson is building a nice resume for himself. He has umpired six Division Series, two League Championship Series, the 2011 World Series and one All-Star Game.

He’s still an active umpire and will leaving on Sunday to prepare for spring training in Phoenix.

Speaking on Wednesday will be one of Gibson’s idols — former major league umpire Randy Marsh. The Covington native is “a 5-star General” with five World Series assignments. He also umpired four All-Star Games and countless LCS and divisional series. Today he is an umpiring supervisor — essentially Gibson’s boss.

“Randy Marsh has looked out for me, taken care of me and yelled at me when I needed it,” Gibson said. “He’s like an uncle is the best way to put it. He’s a member of the family in many respects.”

It was Randy Marsh who gathered Kentuckians Larry Vanover, Sam Holbrook and Gibson to umpire the first game played in Cincinnati’s Great American Ball Park in 2003.

Marsh was recently named Director of Umpiring for MLB. He worked in the National League from 1981-99 and both leagues from 2000-2009 until retiring.

Sharing the spotlight with Gibson will be Borders, the former Toronto Blue Jays star who spent most of his childhood growing up in Scioto County. He was the Most Valuable Player of the 1992 World Series after hitting .450 with one home run. He is also one of only four players to win an Olympic gold medal and a World Series title.

If you need a way to start thinking baseball, this is the event to attend.

Gene Bennett, the legendary Reds scout for 58 years, spearheads the event.  They come from far and wide, many because Bennett asked them.

“They come out of pure respect for Gene Bennett,” Gibson said. “He does a lot for the southern Ohio area. He does a lot for his community.”

Greg Gibson has been a good ambassador for his community, too. Being enshrined on the Portsmouth Murals may be humbling to him but it’s deserved as well.

MARK MAYNARD can be reached at mmaynard@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2648.

Text Only
Local Sports
  • 0729kypgaJr0034.jpg Golfers go out with an encore

    Evan Goble said he “wasn’t completely ready for a playoff” on Monday.
    That didn’t stop him from holing two pressure-packed playoff putts to win the 13-14-year-old division of the final event of the summer on the Kentucky PGA Junior Tour at Bellefonte Country Club.

    July 29, 2014 4 Photos

  • EKC Grid-O-Rama set for Aug. 15-16

    The annual Eastern Kentucky Conference football scrimmage contests are set for Aug. 15-16 at Fleming County and Raceland.

    July 29, 2014

  • Holliday embraces high expectations

    As Marshall football prepares to return to the gridiron to begin fall practice Aug. 4, this season the program finds itself labeled something that it has not been in many years: a favorite.

    July 29, 2014

  • Mobley, Jude key for EKU

    Eastern Kentucky coach Dean Hood has revamped the Colonels’ defense in hopes of containing OVC opponents’ spread offenses.

    July 29, 2014

  • ZACK KLEMME: Punchless Reds wasting solid pitching

    The last nine days have been an exercise in understanding just how slim the margin for error is for baseball teams — even good ones — that can’t score.

    July 27, 2014

  • 0726fbPrac0079.jpg Practice rolls on as kickoff approaches in less than 5 weeks

    As high school football teams strap on helmets and prepare for Friday nights next month, the theme of the first couple of weeks of practice for most is simple.
    You gotta work. Hard.
    And if you don’t, it’ll be exposed come Aug. 22.
    “Everybody looks good in helmets,” Ashland coach Tony Love said with a grin. “We’re all undefeated. There’s a lot of work to get done.
    “Our coaches and kids, we all know it, and that’s why they’re here and we’re here, and we’re gonna push hard every day.”

    July 25, 2014 4 Photos

  • kenzie-breaststroke.jpg Pennington makes push for Nationals

    Swimmer Kenzie Pennington had one last chance to make the cut for this year’s YMCA Long Course National Championships.
    The 15-year-old from Ashland didn’t disappoint.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Salyers shoots 75 for title at Lakeside

    Baylee Salyers of Flatwoods shot a 3-over par 75 at Lakeside Golf Course on Thursday to win the Girls Open division of the Walmart Kentucky PGA Junior Tour event.

    July 24, 2014

  • 0724putnamwebshot.JPG Laying the foundation Workers are finishing the foundation for the locker room on the home side of Putnam Stadium on Tuesday. The Ashland Tomcats open the football season on Aug. 22 against Newport Catholic.

    July 23, 2014

  • Genuine throwback

    Todd Eastham is disproving the old cliche, “Those who can, do; those who can’t, teach.”

    July 23, 2014