Kirk Gibson, Jack White and Alice Cooper talk baseball, rock 'n' roll at fundraiser

Melody Baetens
The Detroit News

It was a lively and intimate evening with a discussion about baseball and rock and roll Wednesday at the Shinola Hotel. The night was so upbeat one could forget it was a fundraiser for a degenerative disorder.

Two-time World Series champion Kirk Gibson was joined by Detroit rockers Jack White and Alice Cooper for a chat on stage in Shinola's upper level Birdy Room to benefit the Kirk Gibson Foundation for Parkinson's.

DETROIT, MICHIGAN - OCTOBER 30: Former MLB Player Kirk Gibson (L) and Musicians Jack White (C) and Alice Cooper speak on a panel at the Kirk Gibson Foundation's Fundraiser For Parkinson's hosted by Shinola Hotel on October 30, 2019 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Aaron J. Thornton/Getty Images for Shinola)

Gibson, 62, said dealing with his Parkinson's on a daily basis is "a huge challenge," and he wants to help others and call attention to the disease. 

"Spreading awareness and having people on your team ... they tell people and they tell other people, and so on," he told The Detroit News ahead of Wednesday evening's event. "We all know people who are suffering from this disease, I'm telling you. If you don't, you will."

WDET-FM's Ann Delisi, far right, moderated a discussion with Kirk Gibson (in the Andy Warhol wig), Jack White and Alice Cooper.

Under the vaulted glass ceiling of the sold-out room of 150 guests, Detroit music authority Ann Delisi of WDET-FM moderated the panel, peppering the stars with questions about baseball, music and Detroit. 

"Trying to find an intersection between the three of you had me thinking a lot," said Delisi before asking each what tune they would choose for a walk-on song to the plate in a baseball game. 

"They didn't have them back (when I played)," said Gibson, before saying he'd choose the White Stripes song "Blue Orchid." 

"Welcome to my Nightmare," said Alice Cooper, choosing his own song. "When I was a kid in Detroit .... we'd get up in the morning and play baseball, all day ... my bedroom was a shrine to Al Kaline, that was my god. He's still my god." 

The two rockers and Gibson have baseball in common. 

"I played at a park in southwest Detroit called Clark Park," said White, a well-known baseball fan. 

Delisi also quizzed the guys on Detroit music and sports history, and gifted each of them with a tile from the city's Pewabic Pottery. 

The laugh-filled Q&A was followed by a two-song acoustic set from White. He played "We're Going to be Friends" from the White Stripes' third album "White Blood Cells." (He also performed the tune Sunday at a Bernie Sanders rally at White's alma matter, Cass Technical High School in Detroit.)

From the same album, he also played "Hotel Yorba."

"I thought since we were in a new hotel in Detroit I should play this song about an old hotel in Detroit," he said. 

Grammy Award-winning musician Jack White gets ready to play a two-song acoustic set Wednesday night's fundraiser for the Kirk Gibson Foundation for Parkinson's.

Cooper, who made good use of his week in Detroit by spending time in a studio in Royal Oak recording an album that he says is all about Detroit.

"All the ingredients are Detroit," the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee told The Detroit News on Wednesday night. "All the players, all the songs ... the whole idea was that nobody on this album doesn't have some connection from Detroit because it's the hard rock capital." 

In addition to the $350 to attend the party, money also was raised with a silent auction of rare goods, including an autographed Third Man Records turntable from White and a signed baseball from Gibson, who spent most of the night dressed as Andy Warhol for Halloween. One high bidder won the chance to play a round of ping pong against the retired athlete at a table set up at the event. 

The people-watching was top notch, and among the guests were two famous Waynes. MC5 guitarist Wayne Kramer was mingling about, as was a pair dressed up as Wayne and Garth from the 1992 film "Wayne's World," in which Cooper makes a cameo. White's mother was there, along with Cooper's wife of 43 years, Sheryl Goddard, and members of Gibson's family.

Cooper says he sees Kramer frequently and they tour together. Like many Detroit rock fans, Cooper agrees that the MC5 is overdue for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame after being nominated four times. 

"I voted for them," he said. "It's like anything else ... if you're in the Hall of Fame, it doesn't mean anything as far as getting anyone else in. All you can do is vote." 

Kirk Gibson plays ping pong with an auction winner at a fundraiser Wednesday for his Parkinson's foundation in Detroit.

While talk of rock and roll and baseball — and the cocktails — kept the party light, it was the cause that brought everyone together under the luxury hotel's roof. 

Gibson, who announced his diagnosis in 2015, said it's difficult not only for him, but for family, friends, caregivers and "anybody I have to deal with on a daily basis."

"It's a huge challenge and we're going to fight it the best we can." 

Visit:Kirk Gibson Foundation for Parkingson's

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Twitter: @melodybaetens