Flashback Friday: John Gibbons’ Infamous Incidents with His Players

“If you can’t play baseball for John Gibbons, you can’t play for anybody.”

That was J.P. Ricciardi’s unwavering stance on his manager John Gibbons back in 2006 when a much-publicized spat saw Shea Hillenbrand shipped out of town.

Although Gibby has a very casual demeanor about him, that doesn’t mean he’s a complete pushover. For the most part, this is a Blue Jays team that runs itself; but Gibbons wasn’t afraid to stand up to Josh Donaldson the other day. Judging by Donaldson’s follow-up to the incident, it’s all water under the bridge, now.


By no means is Gibbons a hot head, but it’s not the first time John Gibbons has been caught on camera trying to talk a little sense into his players. So for a very special Flashback Friday, here are all of John Gibbons’ infamous on-camera incidents with his players.


Hillenbrand Gets Hostile on Gibbons – July 20th, 2006


[ Related: The John Gibbons/Shea Hillenbrand Altercation ]

This is the one that got it all started; the infamous “the ship is sinking” altercation between Shea Hillenbrand and John Gibbons. The video above detailed the aftermath of the event as Hillenbrand absolutely lost it in the clubhouse after seeing reduced playing time during the 2006 season.

[perfectpullquote align=”right” cite=”J.P. Ricciardi” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=”18″]If you can’t play baseball for John Gibbons, you can’t play for anybody.[/perfectpullquote]

The most bizarre part of all is that Shea Hillenbrand alleges that John Gibbons challenged him to a fight; which is concerning if you were a Jays fan at the time, but it also adds to the not-tolerating-bad-behavior Gibby ethos.


Lilly & Gibby Don’t See Eye-to-Eye – August 21st, 2006



[ Related: The John Gibbons/Ted Lilly Fight ]

This might be one of the most infamous manager/player dustups in baseball history. While there wasn’t a fist fight caught on camera, just watching how quickly George Poulis bolted into the tunnel pretty much tells you everything you need to know.

Whether or not there was a physical alteration between John Gibbons and Ted Lilly, there was absolutely a heated argument between the two; both on the mound and in the tunnel.


Gibbons Gets Heated with Lawrie – May 26th, 2013

Here’s the context for this incident. Brett Lawrie was barking at his teammate Adam Lind for failing to score on a sacrifice fly from third base. Lawrie was angry about it and then Gibby let him have it as the Blue Jays manager gave the third baseman a stern talking to.

Bonus points to Jose Bautista for trying to play mediator in this one.



Pillar is Pissed About Being Pinch Hit For – June 24th, 2014

Kevin Pillar didn’t take kindly to being pinch hit for with Anthony Gose in the bottom of the eighth in a tied game with the bases loaded. So Pillar threw his bat into the tunnel and proceeded to whip his batting gloves across the dugout.

It’s a little difficult to tell by the camera angles, but you can catch Kevin Pillar speaking to John Gibbons on the far side of the dugout. Surely, Gibby wasn’t pleased with Pillar’s childish behaviour in that game.

And the following day, Pillar was demoted to Triple A. The organization never said outright that this outburst earned Pillar a ticket to Las Vegas, but as Gibbons himself said: “It didn’t help him at all. This is a team game; there’s no room for selfish play.”

Ian Hunter

Ian has been writing about the Toronto Blue Jays since 2007. He enjoyed the tail-end of the Roy Halladay era and vividly remembers the Alex Rodriguez "mine" incident. He'll also retell the story of Game 5 of the 2015 ALDS to his kids for the next 20 years.

One thought on “Flashback Friday: John Gibbons’ Infamous Incidents with His Players

  • January 14, 2017 at 5:34 pm

    The Blue Jay’s will never win or even go to the WS with this guy? Worst manager I have ever seen? Over 40yrs.watching baseball.Even worse than Dusty Baker if that is possible?

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