Detroit Tigers prospect Cam Gibson’s excellent Australian baseball adventure

Detroit Free Press

On the other side of the world, Cam Gibson found his swing, not to mention the best hamburger of his life.

“A Mary’s burger — incredible,” said Gibson, a Detroit Tigers minor leaguer.

So let’s focus on that burger.

Because that burger leads to baseball in this story from down under.

“It’s this place called Mary’s in Newtown,” Gibson said. “It looks kind of dodgy, like things could get dicey in there if you’re not careful. There is graffiti all over the walls.

[ How the Tigers will prepare Matt Manning for major league debut this year ]

“And there’s music — Pantera, Ozzy Osbourne, Black Sabbath — playing the entire time. You are in the dark but they make the best burger I’ve ever had in my life. You just walk in there and you get the Mary’s burger and you eat it and you’re like, ‘Wow.’”

If there is a lesson in this story, it is this: sometimes, when you least expect it, you can find something surprising. Something amazing.

Oh, and another thing: always order the Mary’s burger.

After the minor league season was shut down in 2020 because of COVID-19, Gibson was looking for a place to get some at bats. He ended up in Australia, playing for the Sydney Blue Sox on a team with Jacob Robson, his close friend. Gibson and Robson have come up together through the Tigers minor league system.

MORE FROM SEIDEL: How a concussion, and the pandemic, may be a blessing for Jacob Robson

“My mom says that Robbie’s my road wife,” Gibson said. “He is gonna take care of me and make sure that I’m in line.”

When they went to the beach, Robson made sure that Gibson had his sun screen.

“I burn easily,” Gibson said. “We’ve been best friends for a long time and we take care of each other.”

Gibson hit .298 for the Sydney Blue Sox. It might have been a small sample size, just 13 games. But it was encouraging sign for Gibson, a 27-year-old outfielder who was born in Grosse Pointe and taken by the Tigers in the fifth round of the 2015 draft out of Michigan State.

It’s the best Gibson has hit on any professional team since he started chasing his dream of making the major leagues, following in the footsteps of his father, former Tigers great Kirk Gibson.

“I was just feeling good,” Gibson said. “You know, obviously I’m still feeling good at the plate. Basically, just trying to be explosive through the ball. And that’s kind of what I’ve been doing a lot. I’ve been making good contact and it doesn’t always fall but I’ve been having good at bats and I feel pretty good.”

EARNED HONOR: Why Matthew Boyd’s Opening Day start is a nod to his leadership

When the Tigers leave Lakeland next week and start the regular season, the minor leaguers will move in to Tiger Town. Gibson plans to arrive in early April.

“It’ll be good to be back in our element,” Gibson said. “Good to see all the guys. We haven’t been together since… what? Spring training 2020.”

MORE FROM SEIDEL: Tigers’ first spring training practice carries familiar sounds in unfamiliar time

‘Everybody’s really nice’

How did Gibson and Robson end up in Australia?

Simple. It was a case of trying to avoid COVID-19.

Robson had played winter ball in the Dominican Republic for the last two years but he decided not to play there because of COVID-19.

“I was looking at their COVID cases and it wasn’t looking good,” he said. “I was like, I’m not even going to entertain that.”

But he was encouraged when he saw the low number of cases in Australia. “I found out that Australia had no COVID so I’m like, I’m just gonna go to the place with no COVID where I can get some at bats,” Robson said. “And I think it was the right choice.”

Robson and Gibson arrived on Nov. 24 and went into a mandatory two-week quarantine.

“We were in a hotel for two weeks, so that that part sucked,” Robson said. “But looking back, it’s totally worth it. You know, we’ve been out for long enough to where it’s kind of forgotten about it.”

They spent their time playing baseball, going to the beach and exploring different restaurants.

[ What Michael Fulmer thinks about coming out of bullpen ]

Which sounds like one heck of an excellent adventure.

“It’s beautiful,” Gibson said. “Everybody’s really nice. There’s really no COVID so you can kind of go about your life. The guys are our team were really nice. You didn’t really have to break the ice or anything. Everybody started joking and so that was pretty cool. It was reassuring.”

Always a Spartan

After the Australian season ended, Gibson came back to Michigan.

He has been working out and training with his father, while working on finishing his degree from MSU.

“I’ve been doing a lot of school,” Gibson said. “Basically, this is a perfect time to get your degree because you don’t have to go to class. You just have to be able to do it online. So I’m doing all that right now and working out a lot and working out with my dad and working with my dad on his foundation.”

But Gibson is excited to get back with his teammates.

Back chasing his dream.

“It’s just weird because you haven’t been around all your friends in a big group really in a long time,” Gibson said.

He hopes to be able to pick up where he left off in Australia.

“You just have to create the feeling in your mind of when you got that triple in a game or the RBI single,” he said. “You’ve got to be able to remember what it felt like and be able to implement it in your game again. You should be should be pretty good going into it, not missing a beat.”

He just wants to bring a little bit of Australia to Lakeland.

Contact Jeff Seidel: jseidel@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @seideljeff. To read his recent columns, go to freep.com/sports/jeff-seidel.

Articles You May Like

Series Preview: Detroit Tigers return home to host Milwaukee Brewers this weekend
Brewers vs. Tigers Game Highlights (6/9/24) | MLB Highlights
Homestead Highlight May 28 – June 2
Change in approach powers offensive breakout for Tigers 2B prospect Hao-Yu Lee
Kevin McGonigle walks it off for Lakeland to hold the divisional lead

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *