Paul Gibson's devotion to baseball always has been obvious, particularly in 1978, when he left Center Moriches High School one semester early so he could start his professional career. Since then, he has been a major league pitcher and a local coach and instructor who has influenced young stars Marcus Stroman and Steven Matz. The honor for the top high school pitcher in Suffolk County every year is called the Paul Gibson Award.
Now, the former Met and Yankee finally has won a prize of his own, one that he has sought all these years: a World Series ring.
Gibson, 55, is a Royals scout whose work was seen as pivotal in winning the pennant against the Blue Jays. He was able to commute from home and watch the climactic Series games that finally gave him a piece of a title.
A lot of emotions rolled over him during Game 5 at Citi Field: from pitching for his late father in the Center Moriches Little League, to having his two sons on his roster when he coached the Center Moriches varsity, to his 10 years of waiting in the minor leagues before he began a nine-year big-league career.
"Playing in New York for the Mets and the Yankees was always something special for a hometown kid," said the former lefthanded reliever who still lives in the Long Island town where he and his wife Carla grew up.
During the World Series, he reflected on having founded and run the All Pro Sports Academy in Bellport, where his students included 200 players who have received college scholarships and more than 30 who have worn professional uniforms. Foremost among those are Stroman of the Blue Jays (winner of the 2009 Gibson Award) and Matz of the Mets, whose teams the Royals defeated. Their former tutor still has a warm spot -- and praise -- for each of those pitchers.
"But the biggest thing for me was that all of those years playing in the minor leagues and major leagues, I had never gotten a ring. Last year I was lucky to get an American League ring. For us to come back and do what we did after last year was sort of unprecedented, to come back that quickly and win the whole thing. It's a really, really special time," he said.
Gibson was back on Long Island Friday, having been in Kansas City for organizational meetings and the massive celebration. "They were expecting 400,000 and 800,000 showed up. And the population of the city is only 470,000 so you can imagine how far they drove," he said.
The way the Royals came together-"The way it ended was pretty much the way they played every day," he said-made him pleased he took up scouting nearly 10 years ago. He started as a part-timer for the Braves at the invitation of area scout Lonnie Goldberg. He then spent two years with the Mariners and joined the Royals five years ago when Goldberg became their scouting director.
Gibson's phone lit up last month when Tom Verducci, on an American League Championship Series telecast, cited the work he did along with Tim Conroy in 24 days of tracking the Blue Jays. "We were lucky, we stumbled on a few things that might have helped," Gibson said.
He always will have something to show for it. He rarely flashed his 2014 American League championship ring until fellow scouts nudged him, telling him that wearing it is good luck. He is just not a jewelry guy.
"But," he said, "I think with that World Series ring, I'm going to wear it for a while because it's so special."