The Tigers and Fox Sports Detroit announced Tuesday that their TV telecast team will expand in 2015 to a three-man rotation of analysts, with Kirk Gibson, Jack Morris and Rod Allen taking turns alongside play-by-play captain Mario Impemba.
The move means that Allen, who has been Impemba's broadcast co-pilot since 2003, will shift to a reduced role in accommodating Gibson and Morris, two Tigers greats from the team's 1980s World Series run who were Allen's teammates on the '84 championship club.
A firm schedule for how 162 regular-season games will be divided between the three men has yet to be decided, FSD said Tuesday. The addition of Gibson, the former Tigers outfielder and coach, ranked as Tuesday's big news. He worked as a Tigers TV analyst from 1998-2002 with Josh Lewin and then Impema before joining the staff of then-manager Alan Trammell.
He returns to the Tigers following eight years with the Diamondbacks, including the past five as manager. He said during a Tuesday phone interview that the decision to rejoin his old team was easy and appealing following a series of recent conversations with the Tigers and FSD.
"You can't go wrong coming home," said Gibson, 57, who still lives in Grosse Pointe with his wife, JoAnn. "I've always kept in touch with the people (at FSD) I worked with during the 1990s and 2000s, and they're friends. Conversation became reality over a period of time.
"And having Jack back will be a cool deal, too. There will be some interesting insights. I can say I had a certain perspective as a player and I always shared those (on telecasts). But now, having managed, I think it'll help me help the viewers understand certain situations that much better."
Morris had a six-game cameo as a Tigers analyst, alongside Impemba and Allen, late in 2014 as FSD began considering the idea of adding an analyst or two for 2015. He has had extensive stints with the Blue Jays and Twins as a radio and TV broadcaster and will be counted on, not surprisingly, to offer insight one of baseball's best right-handed pitchers from the past 40 years is being asked to provide.
Allen has been in the Tigers booth since 2003 and for the past decade has worked virtually exclusively with Impemba as part of a two-man team that has put an indelible imprint on the Tigers audience. Speaking from Los Angeles, where he was attending Fox Sports Network meetings, Allen preferred to focus on news he considered to be upbeat.
"Today isn't about me," Allen said. "It's about Gibby and Jack being invited back into the organization to work alongside Mario and me. Today's a good day for the Tigers and for Fox Sports Detroit. It's a good day for Gibby and Jack and the entire Tigers audience. These guys were superstars."
Allen, 55, eclined to comment on how the new arrangement affected him personally or professionally. He said he would be releasing a statement later Tuesday that would echo his early remarks.
Courtney Welch, a spokeswoman for FSD, said Tuesday that FSD might also have roles in mind for Gibson, Morris and Allen as part of pregame and postgame studio voices. Craig Monroe, who has been a regular in that role the past three seasons, will return in 2015.
Although there could be occasions when the Tigers will consider a three-man booth -- Gibson mentioned Opening Day as a possibility that had been discussed -- the Tigers intend to opt for more of a shared-time rotation.
Gibson is expected to work in the vicinity of 60 games, with Allen and Morris dividing the remainder. Morris' role will be somewhat constrained by the fact he will assume a role perhaps unprecedented in modern-day baseball broadcast booths. Morris, 59, will be an analyst for two teams as he retains his rold continue to work on Twins telecasts for FS North.
"I'm glad to be part of the team, and whatever they feel what I can add to, that's what we'll do," said Gibson, who added that even during his time with Arizona he had watched Tigers telecasts and been impressed with Impemba and Allen.
"We'll have lots of fun. There'll be some kidding, but at the same time, a lot of digging and explaining. I think people sitting around a living room or at any social gathering, if you listen to the conversation, people are constantly asking questions: 'Why this? Why that?'
"They're trying to figure out things. I guess I have a real appreciation, even more so after managing, for how decisions are made."