Pitching ace Bob Gibson throws first no-hitter

Pitching ace Bob Gibson throws first no-hitter



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On August 14, 1971, St. Gibson’s heroics helped his team sail to an 11-0 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Gibson overcame numerous childhood ailments—including rickets, asthma and a heart murmur—to earn a basketball scholarship to Creighton University after high school. His basketball skills were so impressive that in 1957 he spent a year playing for the Harlem Globetrotters, an exhibition team devoted to combining humor and basketball tricks, that was comprised of world-class players like Meadowlark Lemon and, for a time, Wilt Chamberlain. Despite the good pay, Gibson soon became frustrated with the team’s emphasis on comedic showmanship, and decided to switch sports. Prior to the 1958 season, Gibson signed as a pitcher with baseball’s St. Louis Cardinals, and after a year in the minors, was promoted to the major leagues. By 1962, he was one of the team’s most accomplished starters, and he soon established himself as one of the most dominant pitchers in baseball history.

Bob Gibson retired after the 1975 season. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1981.


Bob Gibson, fierce Hall of Fame ace for Cards, dies at 84

St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Bob Gibson throws to a New York Yankees batter on Oct. 12, 1964, during Game 5 of the World Series in New York. Gibson went all the way for a 5-2 win. Gibson, the dominating pitcher who won a record seven consecutive World Series starts and set a modern standard for excellence when he finished the 1968 season with a 1.12 ERA, died Friday. He was 84. - The Associated Press file photo

Hall of Famer Bob Gibson, the dominating St. Louis Cardinals pitcher who won a record seven consecutive World Series starts and set a modern standard for excellence when he finished the 1968 season with a 1.12 ERA, died Friday. He was 84.

The Cardinals confirmed Gibson's death shortly after a 4-0 playoff loss to San Diego ended their season. He had long been ill with pancreatic cancer in his hometown of Omaha, Nebraska.

Gibson's death came on the 52nd anniversary of perhaps his most overpowering performance, when he struck out a World Series record 17 batters in Game 1 of the 1968 World Series against Detroit.

One of baseball's most uncompromising competitors, the two-time Cy Young Award winner spent his entire 17-year career with St. Louis and was named the World Series MVP in their 1964 and '67 championship seasons. The Cards came up just short in 1968, but Gibson was voted the National League's MVP and shut down opponents so well that baseball changed the rules for fear it would happen again.

Gibson died less than a month after the death of a longtime teammate, Hall of Fame outfielder Lou Brock. Another pitching great from his era, Tom Seaver, died in late August.

"I just heard the news about losing Bob Gibson and it's kind of hard losing a legend. You can lose a game, but when you lose a guy like Bob Gibson, just hard," Cardinals star catcher Yadier Molina said. "Bob was funny, smart, he brought a lot of energy. When he talked, you listened. It was good to have him around every year. We lose a game, we lose a series, but the tough thing is we lost one great man."

At his peak, Gibson may have been the most talented all-around starter in history, a nine-time Gold Glove winner who roamed wide to snatch up grounders despite a fierce, sweeping delivery that drove him to the first base side of the mound and a strong hitter who twice hit five home runs in a single season and batted .303 in 1970, when he also won his second Cy Young.

Baseball wasn't his only sport, either. He also starred in basketball at Creighton and spent a year with the Harlem Globetrotters before totally turning his attention to the diamond.

Averaging 19 wins a year from 1963-72, he finished 251-174 with a 2.91 ERA, and was only the second pitcher to reach 3,000 strikeouts. He didn't throw as hard as Sandy Koufax, or from as many angles as Juan Marichal, but batters never forgot how he glared at them (or squinted, because he was near-sighted) as if settling an ancient score.

Gibson snubbed opposing players and sometimes teammates who dared speak to him on a day he was pitching, and he didn't even spare his own family.

"I've played a couple of hundred games of tic-tac-toe with my little daughter and she hasn't beaten me yet," he once told The New Yorker's Roger Angell. "I've always had to win. I've got to win."

Equally disciplined and impatient, Gibson worked so quickly that broadcaster Vin Scully joked that he pitched as if his car was double-parked.

Ball in hand, he was no nonsense on the hill. And he had no use for advice, scowling whenever catcher Tim McCarver or anyone else thought of visiting the mound.

"The only thing you know about pitching is you can't hit it," Gibson was known to say.

His concentration was such that he seemed unaware he was on his way to a World Series single game strikeout record (surpassing Sandy Koufax's 15) in 1968 until McCarver convinced him to look at the scoreboard.

During the regular season, Gibson struck out more than 200 batters nine times and led the National League in shutouts four times, finishing with 56 in his career. In 1968, thirteen of his 22 wins were shutouts, leading McCarver to call Gibson "the luckiest pitcher I ever saw. He always pitches when the other team doesn't score any runs."

He was, somehow, even greater in the postseason, finishing 7-2 with a 1.89 ERA and 92 strikeouts in 81 innings. Despite dominating the Tigers in the 1968 Series opener, that year ended with a Game 7 loss -- hurt by a rare misplay from star center fielder Curt Flood -- and a rewriting of the rules that he would long resent.

Gibson's 1.12 ERA in the regular season was the third lowest for any starting pitcher since 1900 and by far the best for any starter in the post-dead-ball era, which began in the 1920s.

His 1968 performance, the highlight of the so-called "Year of the Pitcher," left officials worried that fans had bored of so many 1-0 games. They lowered the mound from 15 to 10 inches in 1969 and shrank the strike zone.

"I was pissed," Gibson later remarked, although he remained a top pitcher for several years and in 1971 threw his only no-hitter, against Pittsburgh.

Gibson had a long major league career even though he was a relatively late bloomer and was in his early 30s in 1968. Signed by the Cards as an amateur free agent in 1957, he had early trouble with his control, a problem solved by developing one of baseball's greatest sliders, along with a curve to go with his hard fastball. He knew how to throw strikes and how to aim elsewhere when batters stood too close to the plate.

Hank Aaron once counseled Atlanta Braves teammate Dusty Baker about Gibson.

"Don't dig in against Bob Gibson he'll knock you down," Aaron said, according to the Boston Globe. "He'd knock down his own grandmother if she dared to challenge him. Don't stare at him, don't smile at him, don't talk to him. He doesn't like it. If you happen to hit a home run, don't run too slow, don't run too fast. If you happen to want to celebrate, get in the tunnel first. And if he hits you, don't charge the mound, because he's a Gold Glove boxer."

Only the second Black (after Don Newcombe) to win the Cy Young Award, he was an inspiration when insisting otherwise. Gibson would describe himself as a "blunt, stubborn Black man" who scorned the idea he was anyone's role model and once posted a sign over his locker reading "I'm not prejudiced. I hate everybody."

But he was proud of the Cards' racial diversity and teamwork, a powerful symbol during the civil rights era, and his role in ensuring that players did not live in segregated housing during the season.

He was close to McCarver, a Tennessean who would credit Gibson with challenging his own prejudices, and the acknowledged leader of a club which featured whites (McCarver, Mike Shannon, Roger Maris), Blacks (Gibson, Brock and Flood) and Hispanics (Orlando Cepeda, Julian Javier).

"Our team, as a whole, had no tolerance for ethnic or racial disrespect," Gibson wrote in "Pitch by Pitch," published in 2015. "We'd talk about it openly and in no uncertain terms. In our clubhouse, nobody got a free pass."

Cardinals pitcher Jack Flaherty, who is Black, grew close to Gibson in recent years. The right-handers would often talk, the 24-year-old Flaherty soaking up advice from the great who wore No. 45.

"That one hurts," said Flaherty, the Cardinals' losing pitcher Friday night. "He's a legend, first and foremost, somebody who I was lucky enough to learn from. You don't get the opportunity to learn from somebody of that caliber and somebody who was that good very often."

"I had been kept up on his health and where he was at. I was really hoping it wasn't going to be today. I was going to wear his jersey today to the field but decided against it," he said.

Born Pack Robert Gibson in Omaha on Nov. 9, 1935, Gibson overcame childhood illness that nearly cost him his life. His father died soon before his birth, and he grew up in poverty. His mother was a laundry worker, trying to support Gibson and his six siblings.

"Growing up without a father is a hardship and deprivation that is impossible to measure," Gibson wrote in "From Ghetto to Glory," one of a handful of books he published.

Gibson went to Omaha Tech High School and stayed in town, attending Creighton from 1954-57, and averaging 20.2 points during his college basketball career. The roughly 6-foot, 2-inch Gibson, who seemed so much taller on the mound, spent the 1957-58 season with the Globetrotters before turning his full attention to baseball.

At Omaha in the minor leagues, he was managed by Johnny Keane, who became a mentor and cherished friend, "the closest thing to a saint" he would ever know in baseball.

Gibson was often forced to live in separate hotels from his white teammates and was subjected to vicious taunts from fans, but he would remember Keane as "without prejudice" and as an unshakeable believer in his talent.

His early years with the Cardinals were plagued by tensions with manager Solly Hemus, who openly used racist language and was despised by Gibson and other Cardinals. Hemus was fired in the middle of the 1961 season and replaced, to Gibson's great fortune, by Keane.

The pitcher's career soon took off. He made the first of his eight National League All-Star teams in 1962, and the following year went 18-9 and kept the Cardinals in the pennant race until late in the season.

In 1964, a year he regarded as his favorite, he won three times in the last 11 games as the Cardinals surged past the collapsing Philadelphia Phillies and won the National League title. Gibson lost Game 2 of the World Series against the New York Yankees, but he came back with wins in Games 5 and 7 and was named the MVP.

The series was widely regarded as a turning point in baseball history, with the great Yankee dynasty falling the following year and the Cardinals embodying a more modern and aggressive style of play. Keane stuck with Gibson in Game 7 even after the Yankees' Clete Boyer and Phil Linz homered in the ninth inning and narrowed the Cardinals' lead to 7-5. He would later say of Gibson, who retired Bobby Richardson on a pop fly to end the series, that he had a commitment to "his heart."

Gibson was also close to Keane's successor, Red Schoendienst, who took over in 1965 after Keane left for the Yankees. Gibson enjoyed 20-game seasons in 1965 and 1966 and likely would have done the same a third straight year, but a Roberto Clemente line drive broke his leg in the middle of the season. (Gibson was so determined he still managed to finish the inning).

Gibson returned in September, finished 13-7 during the regular season and led the Cardinals to the 1967 championship, winning three times and hitting a home run off Red Sox ace Jim Lonborg in Game 7 at Boston's Fenway Park. The final out was especially gratifying he fanned first baseman George Scott, who throughout the series had been taunting Gibson and the Cards.

But 1968 was on a level few had seen before. He began slowly, losing five of his first eight decisions despite an ERA of 1.52, and fumed over the lack of hitting support. ("Starvation fare," Angell would call it).

But from early June to late August, Gibson was unbeatable. He won 15 straight decisions, threw 10 shutouts and at one point allowed just three earned runs during 101 innings. One of those runs scored on a wild pitch, another on a bloop hit.

He was at his best again in the opener of the World Series, giving a performance so singular that his book "Pitch by Pitch" was dedicated entirely to it.

On a muggy afternoon in St. Louis, facing 31-game winner Denny McLain and such power hitters as Al Kaline -- who also died this year -- Norm Cash and Willie Horton, he allowed just five hits and walked one in a 4-0 victory. Gibson struck out at least one batter every inning and in the ninth fanned Kaline, Cash and Horton to end with 17, the final pitch a slow breaking ball that left Horton frozen in place.

"I was awed," Tigers second baseman Dick McAuliffe later said. "He doesn't remind me of anybody. He's all by himself."

In Game 4, Gibson homered as he led the Cards to a 10-1 romp over McLain and 3-to-1 advantage in the series. But the Tigers won the next two and broke through in the finale against Gibson, who had a one-hitter with two out in the seventh inning, and the score 0-0.

Gibson allowed two singles before Flood, a Gold Glove center fielder, misplayed Jim Northrup's drive to left center and the ball fell, before the warning track, for a two-run triple. The Cardinals lost 4-1 and Gibson would grimace even decades later when asked about the game.

By the mid-1970s, his knees were aching and he had admittedly lost some of his competitive fury. On the last day of the 1974 season, with a 2-1 lead and a division title possible, he gave up a two-run homer to the Montreal Expos' Mike Jorgensen in the eighth inning and the Cards lost 3-2.

He retired after 1975, humiliated in his final appearance when he gave up a grand slam home run to the Chicago Cubs' Pete LaCock. (When the two faced off a decade later, at an old-timers game, Gibson beaned him).

Gibson was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1981, and the Cards retired his uniform number. He had a far less successful career as a coach, whether for the New York Mets and Braves in the 1980s, or for the Cardinals in 1995.

He was married twice, most recently to Wendy Gibson, and spent much of his retirement at his longtime home in the Omaha suburb of Bellevue. He was active in charitable causes and hosted a popular golf event in Omaha that drew some of the top names in sports.

Gibson worried that young people were forgetting about baseball history, and he spoke with dismay about a Cardinal player who knew nothing about Jackie Robinson. But in 2018, Gibson himself was honored when the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra commissioned a rap song in his honor.

The lyrics inspired by "From Ghetto to Glory" -- "He was a game changer The complete gamer Throw a pitch so fast It'll rearrange ya He's no stranger He's Bob Gibson been on a mission He changed the game forever The pitcher was his position."


List of St. Louis Cardinals no-hitters

The St. Louis Cardinals are a Major League Baseball franchise based in St. Louis Missouri. They play in the National League Central division. Also known in their early years as not "St. Louis Brown Stockings" (1882), "St. Louis Browns" (1883–1898), and "St. Louis Perfectos" (1899), [1] the Browns and the Cardinals were two different teams and they played each other in a World Series during one of the World Wars. Also the Browns later became the Baltimore Orioles. pitchers for the Cardinals have thrown 10 no-hitters in franchise history. [2] A no-hitter is officially recognized by Major League Baseball only "when a pitcher (or pitchers) allows no hits during the entire course of a game, which consists of at least nine innings", though one or more batters "may reach base via a walk, an error, a hit by pitch, a passed ball or wild pitch on strike three, or catcher's interference". [3] No-hitters of less than nine complete innings were previously recognized by the league as official however, several rule alterations in 1991 changed the rule to its current form. [4] A no-hitter is rare enough that one team in Major League Baseball has never had a pitcher accomplish the feat. [a] A perfect game, a special subcategory of no-hitter, has yet to be thrown in Cardinals history. [5] As defined by Major League Baseball, "in a perfect game, no batter reaches any base during the course of the game." [3]

Ted Breitenstein threw the first no-hitter in Cardinals franchise history on his first major league start on October 4, 1891 [6] when the team was known as the "St. Louis Browns" the most recent no-hitter was thrown by Bud Smith on September 3, 2001. [5]

Two left-handed pitchers have thrown no-hitters in franchise history, while seven were by right-handers. Four no-hitters were thrown at home and six on the road, whilst all ten have been pitched against different opponents. The Cardinals have thrown one no-hitter in April, one in June, one in July, two in August, four in September, and one in October. The longest interval between no-hitters was between the games pitched by Breitenstein and Jesse Haines, encompassing 32 years, 9 months, and 13 days from October 4, 1891 till August 17, 1924. Conversely, the shortest interval between no-hitters was between the games pitched by Jiménez and Smith, encompassing merely 2 years, 2 months, and 9 days from June 25, 1999 till September 3, 2001. [5]

In none of their ten no-hitters did the Cardinals allow any runs via errors, walks, hit batters or uncaught third strikes. The most baserunners allowed in a no-hitter was by Ray Washburn (in 1968), who allowed five. Of the ten no-hitters, two have been won by a score of 2–0, 3–0, and 5–0, more common than any other results. The largest margin of victory in a no-hitter was an 11–0 win by Bob Gibson in 1971. The smallest margin of victory was a 1–0 win by Jiménez in 2001.

The umpire is also an integral part of any no-hitter. The task of the umpire in a baseball game is to make any decision "which involves judgment, such as, but not limited to, whether a batted ball is fair or foul, whether a pitch is a strike or a ball, or whether a runner is safe or out… [the umpire's judgment on such matters] is final." [7] Part of the duties of the umpire making calls at home plate includes defining the strike zone, which "is defined as that area over homeplate (sic) the upper limit of which is a horizontal line at the midpoint between the top of the shoulders and the top of the uniform pants, and the lower level is a line at the hollow beneath the kneecap." [7] These calls define every baseball game and are therefore integral to the completion of any no-hitter. [8] Eight different umpires presided over each of the franchise's ten no-hitters.

The manager is another integral part of any no-hitter. The tasks of the manager is to determine the starting rotation as well as batting order and defensive lineup every game. Managers choosing the right pitcher and right defensive lineup at a right game at a right place at a right time would contribute to a no-hitter. [ citation needed ] Eight different managers have led to the franchise's ten no-hitters.


Bob Gibson, legendary Cardinals ace, dies at 84

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Hall of Famer Bob Gibson, the dominating St. Louis Cardinals pitcher who won a record seven consecutive World Series starts and set a modern standard for excellence when he finished the 1968 season with a 1.12 ERA, died Friday. He was 84.

The Cardinals confirmed Gibson&rsquos death shortly after a 4-0 playoff loss to San Diego ended their season. He had long been ill with pancreatic cancer in his hometown of Omaha, Nebraska.

Gibson&rsquos death came on the 52nd anniversary of perhaps his most overpowering performance, when he struck out a World Series record 17 batters in Game 1 of the 1968 World Series against Detroit.

One of baseball&rsquos most uncompromising competitors, the two-time Cy Young Award winner spent his entire 17-year career with St. Louis and was named the World Series MVP in their 1964 and &lsquo67 championship seasons. The Cards came up just short in 1968, but Gibson was voted the National League&rsquos MVP and shut down opponents so well that baseball changed the rules for fear it would happen again.

Gibson died less than a month after the death of a longtime teammate, Hall of Fame outfielder Lou Brock. Another pitching great from his era, Tom Seaver, died in late August.

&ldquoI just heard the news about losing Bob Gibson and it&rsquos kind of hard losing a legend. You can lose a game, but when you lose a guy like Bob Gibson, just hard,&rdquo Cardinals star catcher Yadier Molina said. &ldquoBob was funny, smart, he brought a lot of energy. When he talked, you listened. It was good to have him around every year. We lose a game, we lose a series, but the tough thing is we lost one great man.&rdquo

At his peak, Gibson may have been the most talented all-around starter in history, a nine-time Gold Glove winner who roamed wide to snatch up grounders despite a fierce, sweeping delivery that drove him to the first base side of the mound and a strong hitter who twice hit five home runs in a single season and batted .303 in 1970, when he also won his second Cy Young.

Averaging 19 wins a year from 1963-72, he finished 251-174 with a 2.91 ERA, and was only the second pitcher to reach 3,000 strikeouts. He didn&rsquot throw as hard as Sandy Koufax, or from as many angles as Juan Marichal, but batters never forgot how he glared at them (or squinted, because he was near-sighted) as if settling an ancient score.

Gibson snubbed opposing players and sometimes teammates who dared speak to him on a day he was pitching, and he didn&rsquot even spare his own family.

&ldquoI&rsquove played a couple of hundred games of tic-tac-toe with my little daughter and she hasn&rsquot beaten me yet,&rdquo he once told The New Yorker&rsquos Roger Angell. &ldquoI&rsquove always had to win. I&rsquove got to win.&rdquo

Equally disciplined and impatient, Gibson worked so quickly that broadcaster Vin Scully joked that he pitched as if his car was double-parked. He had no use for advice, scowling whenever catcher Tim McCarver or anyone else thought of visiting the mound.

&ldquoThe only thing you know about pitching is you can&rsquot hit it,&rdquo Gibson was known to say.

His concentration was such that he seemed unaware he was on his way to a World Series single game strikeout record (surpassing Sandy Koufax&rsquos 15) in 1968 until McCarver convinced him to look at the scoreboard.

During the regular season, Gibson struck out more than 200 batters nine times and led the National League in shutouts four times, finishing with 56 in his career. In 1968, thirteen of his 22 wins were shutouts, leading McCarver to call Gibson &ldquothe luckiest pitcher I ever saw. He always pitches when the other team doesn&rsquot score any runs.&rdquo

He was, somehow, even greater in the postseason, finishing 7-2 with a 1.89 ERA and 92 strikeouts in 81 innings. Despite dominating the Tigers in the 1968 Series opener, that year ended with a Game 7 loss &mdash hurt by a rare misplay from star center fielder Curt Flood &mdash and a rewriting of the rules that he would long resent.

Gibson&rsquos 1.12 ERA in the regular season was the third lowest for any starting pitcher since 1900 and by far the best for any starter in the post-dead-ball era, which began in the 1920s.

His 1968 performance, the highlight of the so-called &ldquoYear of the Pitcher,&rdquo left officials worried that fans had bored of so many 1-0 games. They lowered the mound from 15 to 10 inches in 1969 and shrank the strike zone.

That irritated Gibson, although he remained a top pitcher for several years and in 1971 threw his only no-hitter, against Pittsburgh.

Gibson had a long major league career even though he was a relatively late bloomer and was in his early 30s in 1968. Signed by the Cards as an amateur free agent in 1957, he had early trouble with his control, a problem solved by developing one of baseball&rsquos greatest sliders, along with a curve to go with his hard fastball. He knew how to throw strikes and how to aim elsewhere when batters stood too close to the plate.

Hank Aaron once counseled Atlanta Braves teammate Dusty Baker about Gibson.

&ldquoDon&rsquot dig in against Bob Gibson he&rsquoll knock you down,&rdquo Aaron said, according to the Boston Globe. &ldquoHe&rsquod knock down his own grandmother if she dared to challenge him. Don&rsquot stare at him, don&rsquot smile at him, don&rsquot talk to him. He doesn&rsquot like it. If you happen to hit a home run, don&rsquot run too slow, don&rsquot run too fast. If you happen to want to celebrate, get in the tunnel first. And if he hits you, don&rsquot charge the mound, because he&rsquos a Gold Glove boxer.&rdquo

Only the second Black pitcher (after Don Newcombe) to win the Cy Young Award, he was an inspiration when insisting otherwise. Gibson would describe himself as a &ldquoblunt, stubborn Black man&rdquo who scorned the idea he was anyone&rsquos role model and once posted a sign over his locker reading &ldquoI&rsquom not prejudiced. I hate everybody.&rdquo

But he was proud of the Cards&rsquo racial diversity and teamwork, a powerful symbol during the civil rights era, and his role in ensuring that players did not live in segregated housing during the season.

He was close to McCarver, a Tennessean who would credit Gibson with challenging his own prejudices, and the acknowledged leader of a club which featured white players (McCarver, Mike Shannon, Roger Maris), Black players (Gibson, Brock and Flood) and Hispanic players (Orlando Cepeda, Julian Javier).

&ldquoOur team, as a whole, had no tolerance for ethnic or racial disrespect,&rdquo Gibson wrote in &ldquoPitch by Pitch,&rdquo published in 2015. &ldquoWe&rsquod talk about it openly and in no uncertain terms. In our clubhouse, nobody got a free pass.&rdquo

Cardinals pitcher Jack Flaherty grew close to Gibson in recent years. The right-handers would often talk, the 24-year-old Flaherty soaking up advice from the great who wore No. 45.

&ldquoThat one hurts,&rdquo said Flaherty, the Cardinals&rsquo losing pitcher Friday night. &ldquoHe&rsquos a legend, first and foremost, somebody who I was lucky enough to learn from. You don&rsquot get the opportunity to learn from somebody of that caliber and somebody who was that good very often.&rdquo

&ldquoI had been kept up on his health and where he was at. I was really hoping it wasn&rsquot going to be today. I was going to wear his jersey today to the field but decided against it,&rdquo he said.

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Bob Gibson, fierce Hall of Fame ace for Cards, dies at 84

Hall of Famer Bob Gibson, the dominating St. Louis Cardinals pitcher who won a record seven consecutive World Series starts and set a modern standard for excellence when he finished the 1968 season with a 1.12 ERA, died Friday. He was 84.

The Cardinals confirmed Gibson's death shortly after a 4-0 playoff loss to San Diego ended their season. He had long been ill with pancreatic cancer in his hometown of Omaha, Nebraska.

Gibson's death came on the 52nd anniversary of perhaps his most overpowering performance, when he struck out a World Series record 17 batters in Game 1 of the 1968 World Series against Detroit.

One of baseball’s most uncompromising competitors, the two-time Cy Young Award winner spent his entire 17-year career with St. Louis and was named the World Series MVP in their 1964 and ’67 championship seasons. The Cards came up just short in 1968, but Gibson was voted the National League’s MVP and shut down opponents so well that baseball changed the rules for fear it would happen again.

Gibson died less than a month after the death of a longtime teammate, Hall of Fame outfielder Lou Brock. Another pitching great from his era, Tom Seaver, died in late August.

“I just heard the news about losing Bob Gibson and it’s kind of hard losing a legend. You can lose a game, but when you lose a guy like Bob Gibson, just hard," Cardinals star catcher Yadier Molina said. "Bob was funny, smart, he brought a lot of energy. When he talked, you listened. It was good to have him around every year. We lose a game, we lose a series, but the tough thing is we lost one great man.”

At his peak, Gibson may have been the most talented all-around starter in history, a nine-time Gold Glove winner who roamed wide to snatch up grounders despite a fierce, sweeping delivery that drove him to the first base side of the mound and a strong hitter who twice hit five home runs in a single season and batted .303 in 1970, when he also won his second Cy Young.

Baseball wasn't his only sport, either. He also starred in basketball at Creighton and spent a year with the Harlem Globetrotters before totally turning his attention to the diamond.

Averaging 19 wins a year from 1963-72, he finished 251-174 with a 2.91 ERA, and was only the second pitcher to reach 3,000 strikeouts. He didn’t throw as hard as Sandy Koufax, or from as many angles as Juan Marichal, but batters never forgot how he glared at them (or squinted, because he was near-sighted) as if settling an ancient score.

Gibson snubbed opposing players and sometimes teammates who dared speak to him on a day he was pitching, and he didn’t even spare his own family.

“I’ve played a couple of hundred games of tic-tac-toe with my little daughter and she hasn’t beaten me yet,” he once told The New Yorker’s Roger Angell. “I’ve always had to win. I’ve got to win.”

Equally disciplined and impatient, Gibson worked so quickly that broadcaster Vin Scully joked that he pitched as if his car was double-parked.

Ball in hand, he was no nonsense on the hill. And he had no use for advice, scowling whenever catcher Tim McCarver or anyone else thought of visiting the mound.

“The only thing you know about pitching is you can’t hit it,” Gibson was known to say.

His concentration was such that he seemed unaware he was on his way to a World Series single game strikeout record (surpassing Sandy Koufax’s 15) in 1968 until McCarver convinced him to look at the scoreboard.

During the regular season, Gibson struck out more than 200 batters nine times and led the National League in shutouts four times, finishing with 56 in his career. In 1968, thirteen of his 22 wins were shutouts, leading McCarver to call Gibson “the luckiest pitcher I ever saw. He always pitches when the other team doesn’t score any runs.”

He was, somehow, even greater in the postseason, finishing 7-2 with a 1.89 ERA and 92 strikeouts in 81 innings. Despite dominating the Tigers in the 1968 Series opener, that year ended with a Game 7 loss — hurt by a rare misplay from star center fielder Curt Flood — and a rewriting of the rules that he would long resent.

Gibson’s 1.12 ERA in the regular season was the third lowest for any starting pitcher since 1900 and by far the best for any starter in the post-dead-ball era, which began in the 1920s.

His 1968 performance, the highlight of the so-called “Year of the Pitcher,” left officials worried that fans had bored of so many 1-0 games. They lowered the mound from 15 to 10 inches in 1969 and shrank the strike zone.

“I was pissed,” Gibson later remarked, although he remained a top pitcher for several years and in 1971 threw his only no-hitter, against Pittsburgh.

Gibson had a long major league career even though he was a relatively late bloomer and was in his early 30s in 1968. Signed by the Cards as an amateur free agent in 1957, he had early trouble with his control, a problem solved by developing one of baseball’s greatest sliders, along with a curve to go with his hard fastball. He knew how to throw strikes and how to aim elsewhere when batters stood too close to the plate.

Hank Aaron once counseled Atlanta Braves teammate Dusty Baker about Gibson.

“Don’t dig in against Bob Gibson he’ll knock you down,” Aaron said, according to the Boston Globe. “He’d knock down his own grandmother if she dared to challenge him. Don’t stare at him, don’t smile at him, don’t talk to him. He doesn’t like it. If you happen to hit a home run, don’t run too slow, don’t run too fast. If you happen to want to celebrate, get in the tunnel first. And if he hits you, don’t charge the mound, because he’s a Gold Glove boxer.”

Only the second Black (after Don Newcombe) to win the Cy Young Award, he was an inspiration when insisting otherwise. Gibson would describe himself as a “blunt, stubborn Black man” who scorned the idea he was anyone’s role model and once posted a sign over his locker reading “I’m not prejudiced. I hate everybody.”

But he was proud of the Cards’ racial diversity and teamwork, a powerful symbol during the civil rights era, and his role in ensuring that players did not live in segregated housing during the season.

He was close to McCarver, a Tennessean who would credit Gibson with challenging his own prejudices, and the acknowledged leader of a club which featured whites (McCarver, Mike Shannon, Roger Maris), Blacks (Gibson, Brock and Flood) and Hispanics (Orlando Cepeda, Julian Javier).

“Our team, as a whole, had no tolerance for ethnic or racial disrespect,” Gibson wrote in “Pitch by Pitch,” published in 2015. “We’d talk about it openly and in no uncertain terms. In our clubhouse, nobody got a free pass.”

Cardinals pitcher Jack Flaherty, who is Black, grew close to Gibson in recent years. The right-handers would often talk, the 24-year-old Flaherty soaking up advice from the great who wore No. 45.

“That one hurts," said Flaherty, the Cardinals' losing pitcher Friday night. “He’s a legend, first and foremost, somebody who I was lucky enough to learn from. You don’t get the opportunity to learn from somebody of that caliber and somebody who was that good very often.”

“I had been kept up on his health and where he was at. I was really hoping it wasn’t going to be today. I was going to wear his jersey today to the field but decided against it,” he said.

Born Pack Robert Gibson in Omaha on Nov. 9, 1935, Gibson overcame childhood illness that nearly cost him his life. His father died soon before his birth, and he grew up in poverty. His mother was a laundry worker, trying to support Gibson and his six siblings.

“Growing up without a father is a hardship and deprivation that is impossible to measure,” Gibson wrote in “From Ghetto to Glory,” one of a handful of books he published.

Gibson went to Omaha Tech High School and stayed in town, attending Creighton from 1954-57, and averaging 20.2 points during his college basketball career. The roughly 6-foot, 2-inch Gibson, who seemed so much taller on the mound, spent the 1957-58 season with the Globetrotters before turning his full attention to baseball.

At Omaha in the minor leagues, he was managed by Johnny Keane, who became a mentor and cherished friend, “the closest thing to a saint” he would ever know in baseball.

Gibson was often forced to live in separate hotels from his white teammates and was subjected to vicious taunts from fans, but he would remember Keane as “without prejudice” and as an unshakeable believer in his talent.

His early years with the Cardinals were plagued by tensions with manager Solly Hemus, who openly used racist language and was despised by Gibson and other Cardinals. Hemus was fired in the middle of the 1961 season and replaced, to Gibson’s great fortune, by Keane.

The pitcher’s career soon took off. He made the first of his eight National League All-Star teams in 1962, and the following year went 18-9 and kept the Cardinals in the pennant race until late in the season.

In 1964, a year he regarded as his favorite, he won three times in the last 11 games as the Cardinals surged past the collapsing Philadelphia Phillies and won the National League title. Gibson lost Game 2 of the World Series against the New York Yankees, but he came back with wins in Games 5 and 7 and was named the MVP.

The series was widely regarded as a turning point in baseball history, with the great Yankee dynasty falling the following year and the Cardinals embodying a more modern and aggressive style of play. Keane stuck with Gibson in Game 7 even after the Yankees’ Clete Boyer and Phil Linz homered in the ninth inning and narrowed the Cardinals’ lead to 7-5. He would later say of Gibson, who retired Bobby Richardson on a pop fly to end the series, that he had a commitment to “his heart.”

Gibson was also close to Keane’s successor, Red Schoendienst, who took over in 1965 after Keane left for the Yankees. Gibson enjoyed 20-game seasons in 1965 and 1966 and likely would have done the same a third straight year, but a Roberto Clemente line drive broke his leg in the middle of the season. (Gibson was so determined he still managed to finish the inning).

Gibson returned in September, finished 13-7 during the regular season and led the Cardinals to the 1967 championship, winning three times and hitting a home run off Red Sox ace Jim Lonborg in Game 7 at Boston’s Fenway Park. The final out was especially gratifying he fanned first baseman George Scott, who throughout the series had been taunting Gibson and the Cards.

But 1968 was on a level few had seen before. He began slowly, losing five of his first eight decisions despite an ERA of 1.52, and fumed over the lack of hitting support. (“Starvation fare,” Angell would call it).

But from early June to late August, Gibson was unbeatable. He won 15 straight decisions, threw 10 shutouts and at one point allowed just three earned runs during 101 innings. One of those runs scored on a wild pitch, another on a bloop hit.

He was at his best again in the opener of the World Series, giving a performance so singular that his book “Pitch by Pitch” was dedicated entirely to it.

On a muggy afternoon in St. Louis, facing 31-game winner Denny McLain and such power hitters as Al Kaline — who also died this year — Norm Cash and Willie Horton, he allowed just five hits and walked one in a 4-0 victory. Gibson struck out at least one batter every inning and in the ninth fanned Kaline, Cash and Horton to end with 17, the final pitch a slow breaking ball that left Horton frozen in place.

“I was awed,” Tigers second baseman Dick McAuliffe later said. “He doesn’t remind me of anybody. He’s all by himself.”

In Game 4, Gibson homered as he led the Cards to a 10-1 romp over McLain and 3-to-1 advantage in the series. But the Tigers won the next two and broke through in the finale against Gibson, who had a one-hitter with two out in the seventh inning, and the score 0-0.

Gibson allowed two singles before Flood, a Gold Glove center fielder, misplayed Jim Northrup’s drive to left center and the ball fell, before the warning track, for a two-run triple. The Cardinals lost 4-1 and Gibson would grimace even decades later when asked about the game.

By the mid-1970s, his knees were aching and he had admittedly lost some of his competitive fury. On the last day of the 1974 season, with a 2-1 lead and a division title possible, he gave up a two-run homer to the Montreal Expos’ Mike Jorgensen in the eighth inning and the Cards lost 3-2.

He retired after 1975, humiliated in his final appearance when he gave up a grand slam home run to the Chicago Cubs’ Pete LaCock. (When the two faced off a decade later, at an old-timers game, Gibson beaned him).

Gibson was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1981, and the Cards retired his uniform number. He had a far less successful career as a coach, whether for the New York Mets and Braves in the 1980s, or for the Cardinals in 1995.

He was married twice, most recently to Wendy Gibson, and spent much of his retirement at his longtime home in the Omaha suburb of Bellevue. He was active in charitable causes and hosted a popular golf event in Omaha that drew some of the top names in sports.

Gibson worried that young people were forgetting about baseball history, and he spoke with dismay about a Cardinal player who knew nothing about Jackie Robinson. But in 2018, Gibson himself was honored when the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra commissioned a rap song in his honor.

The lyrics inspired by “From Ghetto to Glory" — "He was a game changer The complete gamer Throw a pitch so fast It’ll rearrange ya He’s no stranger He’s Bob Gibson been on a mission He changed the game forever The pitcher was his position.”


Bob Gibson, fierce Hall of Fame ace for Cards, dies at 84

Hall of Famer Bob Gibson, the dominating St. Louis Cardinals pitcher who won a record seven consecutive World Series starts and set a modern standard for excellence when he finished the 1968 season with a 1.12 ERA, died Friday. He was 84.

The Cardinals confirmed Gibson’s death shortly after a 4-0 playoff loss to San Diego ended their season. He had long been ill with pancreatic cancer in his hometown of Omaha, Nebraska.

Gibson’s death came on the 52nd anniversary of perhaps his most overpowering performance, when he struck out a World Series record 17 batters in Game 1 of the 1968 World Series against Detroit.

One of baseball’s most uncompromising competitors, the two-time Cy Young Award winner spent his entire 17-year career with St. Louis and was named the World Series MVP in their 1964 and ’67 championship seasons. The Cards came up just short in 1968, but Gibson was voted the National League’s MVP and shut down opponents so well that baseball changed the rules for fear it would happen again.

Gibson died less than a month after the death of a longtime teammate, Hall of Fame outfielder Lou Brock. Another pitching great from his era, Tom Seaver, died in late August.

“I just heard the news about losing Bob Gibson and it’s kind of hard losing a legend. You can lose a game, but when you lose a guy like Bob Gibson, just hard,” Cardinals star catcher Yadier Molina said. “Bob was funny, smart, he brought a lot of energy. When he talked, you listened. It was good to have him around every year. We lose a game, we lose a series, but the tough thing is we lost one great man.”

At his peak, Gibson may have been the most talented all-around starter in history, a nine-time Gold Glove winner who roamed wide to snatch up grounders despite a fierce, sweeping delivery that drove him to the first base side of the mound and a strong hitter who twice hit five home runs in a single season and batted .303 in 1970, when he also won his second Cy Young.

Baseball wasn’t his only sport, either. He also starred in basketball at Creighton and spent a year with the Harlem Globetrotters before totally turning his attention to the diamond.

Averaging 19 wins a year from 1963-72, he finished 251-174 with a 2.91 ERA, and was only the second pitcher to reach 3,000 strikeouts. He didn’t throw as hard as Sandy Koufax, or from as many angles as Juan Marichal, but batters never forgot how he glared at them (or squinted, because he was near-sighted) as if settling an ancient score.

Gibson snubbed opposing players and sometimes teammates who dared speak to him on a day he was pitching, and he didn’t even spare his own family.

“I’ve played a couple of hundred games of tic-tac-toe with my little daughter and she hasn’t beaten me yet,” he once told The New Yorker’s Roger Angell. “I’ve always had to win. I’ve got to win.”

Equally disciplined and impatient, Gibson worked so quickly that broadcaster Vin Scully joked that he pitched as if his car was double-parked.

Ball in hand, he was no nonsense on the hill. And he had no use for advice, scowling whenever catcher Tim McCarver or anyone else thought of visiting the mound.

“The only thing you know about pitching is you can’t hit it,” Gibson was known to say.

His concentration was such that he seemed unaware he was on his way to a World Series single game strikeout record (surpassing Sandy Koufax’s 15) in 1968 until McCarver convinced him to look at the scoreboard.

During the regular season, Gibson struck out more than 200 batters nine times and led the National League in shutouts four times, finishing with 56 in his career. In 1968, thirteen of his 22 wins were shutouts, leading McCarver to call Gibson “the luckiest pitcher I ever saw. He always pitches when the other team doesn’t score any runs.”

He was, somehow, even greater in the postseason, finishing 7-2 with a 1.89 ERA and 92 strikeouts in 81 innings. Despite dominating the Tigers in the 1968 Series opener, that year ended with a Game 7 loss — hurt by a rare misplay from star center fielder Curt Flood — and a rewriting of the rules that he would long resent.

Gibson’s 1.12 ERA in the regular season was the third lowest for any starting pitcher since 1900 and by far the best for any starter in the post-dead-ball era, which began in the 1920s.

His 1968 performance, the highlight of the so-called “Year of the Pitcher,” left officials worried that fans had bored of so many 1-0 games. They lowered the mound from 15 to 10 inches in 1969 and shrank the strike zone.

“I was pissed,” Gibson later remarked, although he remained a top pitcher for several years and in 1971 threw his only no-hitter, against Pittsburgh.

Gibson had a long major league career even though he was a relatively late bloomer and was in his early 30s in 1968. Signed by the Cards as an amateur free agent in 1957, he had early trouble with his control, a problem solved by developing one of baseball’s greatest sliders, along with a curve to go with his hard fastball. He knew how to throw strikes and how to aim elsewhere when batters stood too close to the plate.

Hank Aaron once counseled Atlanta Braves teammate Dusty Baker about Gibson.

“Don’t dig in against Bob Gibson he’ll knock you down,” Aaron said, according to the Boston Globe. “He’d knock down his own grandmother if she dared to challenge him. Don’t stare at him, don’t smile at him, don’t talk to him. He doesn’t like it. If you happen to hit a home run, don’t run too slow, don’t run too fast. If you happen to want to celebrate, get in the tunnel first. And if he hits you, don’t charge the mound, because he’s a Gold Glove boxer.”

Only the second Black (after Don Newcombe) to win the Cy Young Award, he was an inspiration when insisting otherwise. Gibson would describe himself as a “blunt, stubborn Black man” who scorned the idea he was anyone’s role model and once posted a sign over his locker reading “I’m not prejudiced. I hate everybody.”

But he was proud of the Cards’ racial diversity and teamwork, a powerful symbol during the civil rights era, and his role in ensuring that players did not live in segregated housing during the season.

He was close to McCarver, a Tennessean who would credit Gibson with challenging his own prejudices, and the acknowledged leader of a club which featured whites (McCarver, Mike Shannon, Roger Maris), Blacks (Gibson, Brock and Flood) and Hispanics (Orlando Cepeda, Julian Javier).

“Our team, as a whole, had no tolerance for ethnic or racial disrespect,” Gibson wrote in “Pitch by Pitch,” published in 2015. “We’d talk about it openly and in no uncertain terms. In our clubhouse, nobody got a free pass.”

Cardinals pitcher Jack Flaherty, who is Black, grew close to Gibson in recent years. The right-handers would often talk, the 24-year-old Flaherty soaking up advice from the great who wore No. 45.

“That one hurts,” said Flaherty, the Cardinals’ losing pitcher Friday night. “He’s a legend, first and foremost, somebody who I was lucky enough to learn from. You don’t get the opportunity to learn from somebody of that caliber and somebody who was that good very often.”

“I had been kept up on his health and where he was at. I was really hoping it wasn’t going to be today. I was going to wear his jersey today to the field but decided against it,” he said.

Born Pack Robert Gibson in Omaha on Nov. 9, 1935, Gibson overcame childhood illness that nearly cost him his life. His father died soon before his birth, and he grew up in poverty. His mother was a laundry worker, trying to support Gibson and his six siblings.

“Growing up without a father is a hardship and deprivation that is impossible to measure,” Gibson wrote in “From Ghetto to Glory,” one of a handful of books he published.

Gibson went to Omaha Tech High School and stayed in town, attending Creighton from 1954-57, and averaging 20.2 points during his college basketball career. The roughly 6-foot, 2-inch Gibson, who seemed so much taller on the mound, spent the 1957-58 season with the Globetrotters before turning his full attention to baseball.

At Omaha in the minor leagues, he was managed by Johnny Keane, who became a mentor and cherished friend, “the closest thing to a saint” he would ever know in baseball.

Gibson was often forced to live in separate hotels from his white teammates and was subjected to vicious taunts from fans, but he would remember Keane as “without prejudice” and as an unshakeable believer in his talent.

His early years with the Cardinals were plagued by tensions with manager Solly Hemus, who openly used racist language and was despised by Gibson and other Cardinals. Hemus was fired in the middle of the 1961 season and replaced, to Gibson’s great fortune, by Keane.

The pitcher’s career soon took off. He made the first of his eight National League All-Star teams in 1962, and the following year went 18-9 and kept the Cardinals in the pennant race until late in the season.

In 1964, a year he regarded as his favorite, he won three times in the last 11 games as the Cardinals surged past the collapsing Philadelphia Phillies and won the National League title. Gibson lost Game 2 of the World Series against the New York Yankees, but he came back with wins in Games 5 and 7 and was named the MVP.

The series was widely regarded as a turning point in baseball history, with the great Yankee dynasty falling the following year and the Cardinals embodying a more modern and aggressive style of play. Keane stuck with Gibson in Game 7 even after the Yankees’ Clete Boyer and Phil Linz homered in the ninth inning and narrowed the Cardinals’ lead to 7-5. He would later say of Gibson, who retired Bobby Richardson on a pop fly to end the series, that he had a commitment to “his heart.”

Gibson was also close to Keane’s successor, Red Schoendienst, who took over in 1965 after Keane left for the Yankees. Gibson enjoyed 20-game seasons in 1965 and 1966 and likely would have done the same a third straight year, but a Roberto Clemente line drive broke his leg in the middle of the season. (Gibson was so determined he still managed to finish the inning).

Gibson returned in September, finished 13-7 during the regular season and led the Cardinals to the 1967 championship, winning three times and hitting a home run off Red Sox ace Jim Lonborg in Game 7 at Boston’s Fenway Park. The final out was especially gratifying he fanned first baseman George Scott, who throughout the series had been taunting Gibson and the Cards.

But 1968 was on a level few had seen before. He began slowly, losing five of his first eight decisions despite an ERA of 1.52, and fumed over the lack of hitting support. (“Starvation fare,” Angell would call it).

But from early June to late August, Gibson was unbeatable. He won 15 straight decisions, threw 10 shutouts and at one point allowed just three earned runs during 101 innings. One of those runs scored on a wild pitch, another on a bloop hit.

He was at his best again in the opener of the World Series, giving a performance so singular that his book “Pitch by Pitch” was dedicated entirely to it.

On a muggy afternoon in St. Louis, facing 31-game winner Denny McLain and such power hitters as Al Kaline — who also died this year — Norm Cash and Willie Horton, he allowed just five hits and walked one in a 4-0 victory. Gibson struck out at least one batter every inning and in the ninth fanned Kaline, Cash and Horton to end with 17, the final pitch a slow breaking ball that left Horton frozen in place.

“I was awed,” Tigers second baseman Dick McAuliffe later said. “He doesn’t remind me of anybody. He’s all by himself.”

In Game 4, Gibson homered as he led the Cards to a 10-1 romp over McLain and 3-to-1 advantage in the series. But the Tigers won the next two and broke through in the finale against Gibson, who had a one-hitter with two out in the seventh inning, and the score 0-0.

Gibson allowed two singles before Flood, a Gold Glove center fielder, misplayed Jim Northrup’s drive to left center and the ball fell, before the warning track, for a two-run triple. The Cardinals lost 4-1 and Gibson would grimace even decades later when asked about the game.

By the mid-1970s, his knees were aching and he had admittedly lost some of his competitive fury. On the last day of the 1974 season, with a 2-1 lead and a division title possible, he gave up a two-run homer to the Montreal Expos’ Mike Jorgensen in the eighth inning and the Cards lost 3-2.

He retired after 1975, humiliated in his final appearance when he gave up a grand slam home run to the Chicago Cubs’ Pete LaCock. (When the two faced off a decade later, at an old-timers game, Gibson beaned him).

Gibson was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1981, and the Cards retired his uniform number. He had a far less successful career as a coach, whether for the New York Mets and Braves in the 1980s, or for the Cardinals in 1995.

He was married twice, most recently to Wendy Gibson, and spent much of his retirement at his longtime home in the Omaha suburb of Bellevue. He was active in charitable causes and hosted a popular golf event in Omaha that drew some of the top names in sports.

Gibson worried that young people were forgetting about baseball history, and he spoke with dismay about a Cardinal player who knew nothing about Jackie Robinson. But in 2018, Gibson himself was honored when the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra commissioned a rap song in his honor.

The lyrics inspired by “From Ghetto to Glory” — “He was a game changer The complete gamer Throw a pitch so fast It’ll rearrange ya He’s no stranger He’s Bob Gibson been on a mission He changed the game forever The pitcher was his position.”


Contents

Gibson was born in Omaha, the last of Pack and Victoria Gibson's seven children (five boys and two girls). [2] [3] Gibson's father died of tuberculosis three months prior to Gibson's birth, and Gibson was named Pack Robert Gibson in his father's honor. [3] [4] While he revered his father's legacy, Gibson disliked the name Pack, and later changed his first name to Robert. [4] [5] Despite a childhood that included health problems like rickets, and a serious case of either asthma or pneumonia when he was three, Gibson was active in sports in both informal and organized settings, particularly baseball and basketball. [6] Gibson's brother Josh (no relation to the Negro leagues star player), who was 15 years his senior, had a profound effect on his early life, serving as a mentor to him. [7] Gibson played on a number of youth basketball and baseball teams his brother coached, many of which were organized through the local YMCA. [8]

Gibson attended Omaha Technical High School, where he participated on the track, basketball, and baseball teams. [9] Health issues resurfaced for Gibson, though, and he needed a doctor's permission to compete in high school sports because of a heart murmur that occurred in tandem with a rapid growth spurt. [10] Gibson was named to the All-State basketball team during his senior year of high school by a newspaper in Lincoln, Nebraska, and soon after won a full athletic scholarship for basketball from Creighton University. [11] Indiana University had rejected him after stating their Negro athlete quota had already been filled.

While at Creighton, Gibson majored in sociology, and continued to experience success playing basketball. At the end of Gibson's junior basketball season, he averaged 22 points per game, and made third team Jesuit All-American. [12] As his graduation from Creighton approached, the spring of 1957 proved to be a busy time for Gibson. Aside from getting married, Gibson had garnered the interest of the Harlem Globetrotters basketball team and the St. Louis Cardinals baseball team. [13] In 1957, Gibson received a $3,000 bonus (a notable sum at that time) to sign with the Cardinals. [5] He delayed his start with the organization for a year, playing basketball with the Globetrotters. [14] However, he gave up as a travelling member due to long travels and many double-headers.

Gibson was assigned to the Cardinals' big league roster for the start of the 1959 season, recording his Major League debut on April 15 as a relief pitcher. [5] Reassigned to the Cardinals minor league affiliate the Omaha Cardinals soon after, Gibson returned to the Major Leagues on July 30 as a starting pitcher, earning his first Major League win that day. [15] Gibson's experience in 1960 was similar, pitching nine innings for the Cardinals before shuffling between the Cardinals and their Rochester affiliate until mid-June. [16] After posting a 3–6 record with a 5.61 ERA, Gibson traveled to Venezuela to participate in winter baseball at the conclusion of the 1960 season. [17] Cardinals manager Solly Hemus shuffled Gibson between the bullpen and the starting pitching rotation for the first half of the 1961 season. [18] In a 2011 documentary, Gibson indicated that Hemus's racial prejudice played a major role in his misuse of Gibson, as well as of teammate Curt Flood, both of whom were told by Hemus that they would not make it as major leaguers and should try something else. [19] Hemus was replaced as Cardinals manager in July 1961 by Johnny Keane, who had been Gibson's manager on the Omaha minor league affiliate several years prior. [20] Keane and Gibson shared a positive professional relationship, and Keane immediately moved Gibson into the starting pitching rotation full-time. Gibson proceeded to compile an 11–6 record the remainder of the year, and posted a 3.24 ERA for the full season. [5] [21] Off the field, Bill White, Curt Flood, and Gibson started a civil rights movement to make all players live in the same clubhouse and hotel rooms, and led the St. Louis Cardinals to become the first sports team to end segregation, three years before President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the "Great Society" legislation in 1964.

1962–1967 Edit

In late May of the 1962 season Gibson pitched 22 + 2 ⁄ 3 consecutive scoreless innings on his way to being named to his first National League All-Star team. [23] Because of an additional All-Star Game played each season from 1959 to 1962, Gibson was named to the second 1962 N.L. All-Star game as well, where he pitched two innings. [24] After suffering a fractured ankle late in the season, Gibson, sometimes referred to by the nickname "Hoot" (a reference to western film star Hoot Gibson), still finished 1962 with his first 200 plus strikeout season. [5] [20] [24] The rehabilitation of Gibson's ankle was a slow process, and by May 19 of the 1963 season he had recorded only one win. [25] Gibson then turned to rely on his slider and two different fastball pitches to reel off six straight wins prior to late July. [26] Gibson and all other National League pitchers benefited from a rule change that expanded the strike zone above the belt buckle. [27] Adding to his pitching performances was Gibson's offensive production, with his 20 RBIs outmatching the combined RBI output of entire pitching staffs on other National League teams. [28] Even with Gibson's 18 wins and the extra motivation of teammate Stan Musial's impending retirement, the Cardinals finished six games out of first place. [29]

Building on their late-season pennant run in 1963, the 1964 Cardinals developed a strong camaraderie that was noted for being free of the racial tension that predominated in the United States at that time. [30] [31] Part of this atmosphere stemmed from the integration of the team's spring training hotel in 1960, and Gibson and teammate Bill White worked to confront and stop use of racial slurs within the team. [32] On August 23, the Cardinals were 11 games behind the Philadelphia Phillies and remained six-and-a-half games behind on September 21. [33] The combination of a nine-game Cardinals winning streak and a ten-game Phillies losing streak then brought the season down to the final game. The Cardinals faced the New York Mets, and Gibson entered the game as a relief pitcher in the fifth inning. [33] Aware that the Phillies were ahead of the Cincinnati Reds 4–0 at the time he entered the game, Gibson proceeded to pitch four innings of two-hit relief, while his teammates scored 11 runs of support to earn the victory. [33]

They next faced the New York Yankees in the 1964 World Series. Gibson was matched against Yankees starting pitcher Mel Stottlemyre for three of the Series' seven games, with Gibson losing Game 2, then winning Game 5. [34] In Game 7, Gibson, who only had 2 days rest, pitched into the ninth inning, where he allowed home runs to Phil Linz and Clete Boyer, making the score 7–5 Cardinals. [35] With Ray Sadecki and Barney Schultz warming up in the Cardinal bullpen, Gibson retired Bobby Richardson for the final out, giving the Cardinals their first World Championship since 1946. [35] Along with his two victories, Gibson set a new World Series record by striking out 31 batters. [36]

Gibson made the All-Star team again in the 1965 season, and when the Cardinals were well out of the pennant race by August, attention turned on Gibson to see if he could win 20 games for the first time. [37] Gibson was still looking for win number 20 on the last day of the season, a game where new Cardinals manager Red Schoendienst rested many of the regular players. [38] Gibson still prevailed against the Houston Astros by a score of 5–2. [38] The 1966 season marked the opening of Busch Memorial Stadium for the Cardinals, and Gibson was selected to play in the All-Star Game in front of the hometown crowd that year as well. [39]

In the 1967 World Series against the Boston Red Sox, Gibson allowed only three earned runs and 14 hits over three complete-game victories in Games 1, 4 (five-hit shutout), and 7, the latter two marks tying Christy Mathewson's 1905 World Series record. Just as he had in 1964, Gibson pitched a complete-game victory in Game 7, against Cy Young winner Jim Lonborg, who pitched a 1-hitter in Game 2. Gibson also contributed offensively in Game 7 by hitting a home run that made the game 3–0. [45] [46] Gibson became the only pitcher to be on the mound for the final out of Game 7 of a World Series multiple times. [47] Unlike his last win as World Series MVP, he finally got the men's suit endorsement that eluded him in 1964. He also gained endorsement and sponsorship for his asthma medication, namely Primateme mist inhaler and tablets.

1968—Year of the Pitcher Edit

The 1968 season became known as "The Year of the Pitcher", and Gibson was at the forefront of pitching dominance. His earned run average was 1.12, a live-ball era record, as well as the major league record in 300 or more innings pitched. It was the lowest major league ERA since Dutch Leonard's 0.96 mark 54 years earlier. [48] Gibson threw 13 shutouts, three fewer than fellow Nebraskan Grover Alexander's 1916 major league record of 16. [49] He won all 12 starts in June and July, pitching a complete game every time, (eight of which were shutouts), and allowed only six earned runs in 108 innings pitched (a 0.50 ERA). Gibson pitched 47 consecutive scoreless innings during this stretch, at the time the third-longest scoreless streak in major league history. He also struck out 91 batters, and he won two-consecutive NL Player of the Month awards. [50] Gibson finished the season with 28 complete games out of 34 games started. Of the games he didn't complete, he was pinch-hit for, meaning Gibson was not removed from the mound for another pitcher for the entire season. He also only conceded a total of 38 earned runs. [51]

In Game 1 of the 1968 World Series, Gibson struck out 17 Detroit Tigers to set a World Series record for strikeouts in one game, which still stands today (breaking Sandy Koufax's record of 15 in Game 1 of the 1963 World Series). [48] [54] [55] He also joined Ed Walsh as the only pitchers to strike out at least one batter in each inning of a World Series game, Walsh having done so in Game Three of the 1906 World Series. After allowing a leadoff single to Mickey Stanley in the ninth inning, Gibson finished the game by striking out Tiger sluggers Al Kaline, Norm Cash, and Willie Horton in succession. Recalling the performance, Tigers outfielder Jim Northrup remarked: "We were fastball hitters, but he blew the ball right by us. And he had a nasty slider that was jumping all over the place." [56]

Gibson next pitched in Game 4 of the 1968 World Series, defeating the Tigers' ace pitcher Denny McLain 10–1. [57] The teams continued to battle each other, setting the stage for another winner-take-all Game 7 in St. Louis on October 10, 1968. [58] In this game Gibson was matched against Tigers pitcher Mickey Lolich and the two proceeded to hold their opponents scoreless for the first six innings. [59] In the top of the seventh, Gibson retired the first two batters before allowing two consecutive singles. [59] Detroit batter Jim Northrup then hit a two-run triple over the head of center fielder Curt Flood, leading to Detroit's Series win. [60]

The overall pitching statistics in MLB's 1968 season, led by Gibson and McLain's record-setting performances, are often cited as one of the reasons for Major League Baseball's decision to alter pitching-related rules. [61] Sometimes known as the "Gibson rules", MLB lowered the pitcher's mound in 1969 from 15 inches (380 mm) to 10 inches (250 mm) and reduced the height of the strike zone from the batter's armpits to the jersey letters. [57]

1969–1975 Edit

Aside from the rule changes set to take effect in 1969, cultural and monetary influences increasingly began impacting baseball, as evidenced by nine players from the Cardinals' 1968 roster who had not reported by the first week of spring training due to the status of their contracts. [62] On February 4, 1969, Gibson appeared on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, and said the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) had suggested players consider striking before the upcoming season began. [63] However, Gibson himself had no immediate contract worries, as the $125,000 salary Gibson requested for 1969 was agreed to by team owner Gussie Busch and the Cardinals, setting a new franchise record for the highest single-season salary. [64]

Despite the significant rule changes, Gibson's status as one of the league's best pitchers was not immediately affected. In 1969 he went 20–13 with a 2.18 ERA, 4 shutouts, and 28 complete games. [65] On May 12, 1969, Gibson struck out three batters on nine pitches in the seventh inning of a 6–2 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers. [66] Gibson became the ninth National League pitcher and the 15th pitcher in Major League history to throw an "immaculate inning". After pitching into the tenth inning of the July 4 game against the Cubs, Gibson was removed from a game without finishing an inning for the first time in more than 60 consecutive starts, a streak spanning two years. [67] After participating in the 1969 All-Star Game (his seventh selection), Gibson set another mark on August 16 when he became the third pitcher in Major League history to reach the 200-strikeout plateau in seven different seasons. [67] [68]

Gibson experienced an up-and-down 1970 season, marked at the low point by a July slump where he resorted to experimenting with a knuckleball for the first time in his career. [69] Just as quickly, Gibson returned to form, starting a streak of seven wins on July 28, and pitching all 14 innings of a 5–4 win against the San Diego Padres on August 12. He would go on to win his fourth and final NL Player of the Month award for August (6–0, 2.31 ERA, 55 SO). [70] Gibson won 23 games in 1970, and was once again named the NL Cy Young Award winner. [71]

Gibson was sometimes used by the Cardinals as a pinch-hitter, and in 1970 he hit .303 for the season in 109 at-bats, which was over 100 points higher than teammate Dal Maxvill. [71] For his career, he batted .206 (274 for 1,328) with 44 doubles, 5 triples, 24 home runs (plus two more in the World Series), and 144 RBIs, stealing 13 bases and walking 63 times. [65]

Gibson achieved two highlights in August 1971. On the 4th, he defeated the Giants 7–2 at Busch Memorial Stadium for his 200th career victory. [14] Ten days later, he no-hit the eventual World Champion Pittsburgh Pirates 11–0 at Three Rivers Stadium. [72] [73] Three of his 10 strikeouts in the game were to Willie Stargell, including the game's final out. The no-hitter was the first in Pittsburgh since Nick Maddox at Exposition Park in 1907 none had been pitched in the 62-year (mid-1909-to-mid-1970) history of Three Rivers Stadium's predecessor, Forbes Field. He was the second pitcher in Major League Baseball history, after Walter Johnson, to strike out over 3,000 batters, and the first to do so in the National League. [14] He accomplished this at home at Busch Stadium on July 17, 1974 the victim was César Gerónimo of the Cincinnati Reds. [74] Gibson began the 1972 season by going 0–5 but broke Jesse Haines's club record for victories on June 21 and finished the year with 19 wins. [75]

During the summer of 1974, Gibson felt hopeful he could put together a winning streak, but he continually encountered swelling in his knee. [76] In January 1975, Gibson announced he would retire at the end of the 1975 season, admittedly using baseball to help cope with his recent divorce from his former wife, Charline. [77] During the 1975 season, he went 3–10 with a 5.04 ERA. [65]

In the eight seasons from 1963 to 1970, Gibson posted a win–loss record of 156–81, for a .658 winning percentage. [65] [78] He won nine Gold Glove Awards, was awarded the World Series MVP Award in 1964 and 1967, and won Cy Young Awards in 1968 and 1970. [79] [80] [81]

Don't mess with "Hoot" Edit

Gibson was a fierce competitor who rarely smiled and was known to throw brushback pitches to establish dominance over the strike-zone and intimidate the batter, similar to his contemporary and fellow Hall of Famer Don Drysdale. [83] Even so, Gibson had good control and hit only 102 batters in his career (fewer than Drysdale's 154). [65]

Gibson was surly and brusque even with his teammates. When his catcher Tim McCarver went to the mound for a conference, Gibson brushed him off, saying "The only thing you know about pitching is that it's hard to hit." [84]

Gibson casually disregarded his reputation for intimidation, though, saying that he made no concerted effort to seem intimidating. However, there is an interview in which he admits that if a batter homered off one of his best pitches, he would hit that batter in his next at bat. He joked in an interview with a St. Louis public radio station that the only reason he made faces while pitching was because he needed glasses and could not see the catcher's signals. [85]

Before Gibson returned to his home in Omaha at the end of the 1975 season, Cardinals general manager Bing Devine offered him an undefined job that was contingent on approval from higher-ranking club officials. [86] Unsure of his future career path, Gibson declined and used the motor home the Cardinals had given him as a retirement gift to travel across the western United States during the 1975 offseason. Returning to Omaha, Gibson continued to serve on the board of a local bank, was at one point the principal investor in radio station KOWH, and started "Gibson's Spirits and Sustenance" restaurant, sometimes working twelve-hour days as owner/operator. [87]

Gibson returned to baseball in 1981 after accepting a coaching job with Joe Torre, who was then manager of the New York Mets. [88] Torre termed Gibson's position "attitude coach", the first such title in Major League history. [89] After Torre and his coaching staff were let go at the end of the 1981 season, Torre moved on to manage the Atlanta Braves in 1982, hiring Gibson as a pitching coach. [90] The Braves proceeded to challenge for the National League pennant for the first time since 1969, ultimately losing to the Cardinals in the 1982 National League Championship Series. [91] Gibson remained with Torre on the Braves' coaching staff until the end of the 1984 season. [92] Gibson then took to hosting a pre- and postgame show for Cardinals baseball games on radio station KMOX from 1985 until 1989. [93] Gibson also served as color commentator for baseball games on ESPN in 1990 but declined an option to continue the position over concerns he would have to spend too much time away from his family. [94] In 1995, Gibson again served as pitching coach on a Torre-led staff, this time returning to the Cardinals. [71]

Gibson was a father to three children: two with his first wife, Charline, and one with his second wife, Wendy. [95]

Gibson's interests included playing guitar. In 1968 he performed on The Ed Sullivan Show along with his 1968 World Series opponent Denny McLain, an accomplished organist. [96] [97]

In July 2019, Gibson's longtime agent Dick Zitzmann announced that Gibson had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer several weeks earlier and was due to begin chemotherapy. [98] Gibson died on October 2, 2020, at age 84, under hospice care after fighting pancreatic cancer for more than a year. [99]

Gibson's jersey number 45 was retired by the St. Louis Cardinals on September 1, 1975. In 1981 he was inducted into the Baseball Hall Of Fame. [100] In 1999 he ranked Number 31 on The Sporting News' list of the 100 Greatest Baseball Players, and was elected to the Major League Baseball All-Century Team. [101] [102] He has a star on the St. Louis Walk of Fame. [103] A bronze statue of Gibson by Harry Weber is located in front of Busch Stadium, commemorating Gibson along with other St. Louis Cardinals greats. Another statue of Gibson was unveiled outside of Werner Park in Gibson's home city, Omaha, Nebraska, in 2013. [104] [105] The street on the north side of Rosenblatt Stadium, former home of the College World Series in his hometown of Omaha, is named Bob Gibson Boulevard. In January 2014, the Cardinals announced Gibson among 22 former players and personnel to be inducted into the St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame Museum for the inaugural class of 2014. [106] At the time of his death, Gibson still led the Cardinals franchise's pitching records in wins (251), games started (482), complete games (255), shutouts (56), innings pitched (3,884.1) and strikeouts (3,117) along with a 2.91 ERA. [107]


Mets' Jacob deGrom becomes first MLB pitcher checked for foreign substances under new enforcement protocols

Monday afternoon, New York Mets ace Jacob deGrom returned to the mound for the first time since exiting his last start with a minor shoulder issue . It was minor enough that he did not require an injured list stint, and the fact deGrom came out throwing 99-101 mph against the Braves is a pretty good indication he's feeling strong.

As usual, deGrom was masterful Monday, holding Atlanta to one hit and two walks in five shutout innings in the first game of their doubleheader (NYM 4, ATL 2). His scoreless streak is up to 30 innings, and he's allowed no more than one earned run in 12 straight starts. It is the longest such streak since earned runs became an official stat in 1913, breaking a tie with Hall of Famer Bob Gibson in 1968.

The no-hitter was lost with two outs in the fifth inning, when Braves catcher Kevan Smith lifted a long fly ball to left-center field. Left fielder Dominic Smith and center fielder Albert Almora Jr. had a communication issue, and the ball dropped in. The fly ball had a .030 expected batting average based on exit velocity and launch angle, according to Statcast.

Oh my goodness. Jacob deGrom has allowed only one hit today, and it was. this: pic.twitter.com/krpsnYXmFR

— Anthony DiComo (@AnthonyDiComo) June 21, 2021

Monday is also the first day of MLB's new foreign substance enforcement protocols. MLB is cracking down on the widespread use of sticky stuff, and as part of the new protocols, starting pitchers will be checked for foreign substances at least once per game. Relievers will be checked at the end of the inning or when they exit the game, and there will be random checks throughout.

DeGrom became the first pitcher inspected for foreign substances as part of the new enforcement protocols. The umpires were not picking on him, it was simple scheduling. He was the first pitcher to pitch Monday, so he was the first pitcher checked. deGrom's glove, hat, and belt were checked as he came off the mound following a 1-2-3 first inning. Here's the inspection:

The umpires found nothing unsavory on deGrom's person and he was allowed to continue (he was checked again after the fifth inning). Braves lefty Kyle Muller was inspected after the bottom of the first inning and was clean as well. Foreign substances violators will be ejected and suspended 10 days with pay.


Bob Gibson, World Series Hero and Hall of Fame Ace, Dies at 84

Hall of Famer Bob Gibson, the dominating St. Louis Cardinals pitcher who won a record seven consecutive World Series starts and set a modern standard for excellence when he finished the 1968 season with a 1.12 ERA, died Friday. He was 84.

The Cardinals confirmed Gibson’s death shortly after a 4-0 playoff loss to San Diego ended their season. He had long been ill with pancreatic cancer in his hometown of Omaha, Nebraska.

Gibson’s death came on the 52nd anniversary of perhaps his most overpowering performance when he struck out a World Series record 17 batters in Game 1 of the 1968 World Series against Detroit.

One of baseball’s most uncompromising competitors, the two-time Cy Young Award winner spent his entire 17-year career with St. Louis and was named the World Series MVP in their 1964 and ’67 championship seasons. The Cards came up just short in 1968, but Gibson was voted the National League’s MVP and shut down opponents so well that baseball changed the rules for fear it would happen again.

St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Bob Gibson poses for a photo during baseball spring training in Florida in 1967. (AP Photo)

Gibson died less than a month after the death of a longtime teammate, Hall of Fame outfielder Lou Brock. Another pitching great from his era, Tom Seaver, died in late August.

“I just heard the news about losing Bob Gibson and it’s kind of hard losing a legend. You can lose a game, but when you lose a guy like Bob Gibson, just hard,” Cardinals star catcher Yadier Molina said. “Bob was funny, smart, he brought a lot of energy. When he talked, you listened. It was good to have him around every year. We lose a game, we lose a series, but the tough thing is we lost one great man.”

At his peak, Gibson may have been the most talented all-around starter in history, a nine-time Gold Glove winner who roamed wide to snatch up grounders despite a fierce, sweeping delivery that drove him to the first base side of the mound and a strong hitter who twice hit five home runs in a single season and batted .303 in 1970, when he also won his second Cy Young.

Baseball wasn’t his only sport, either. He also starred in basketball at Creighton and spent a year with the Harlem Globetrotters before totally turning his attention to the diamond.

Averaging 19 wins a year from 1963-72, he finished 251-174 with a 2.91 ERA, and was only the second pitcher to reach 3,000 strikeouts. He didn’t throw as hard as Sandy Koufax, or from as many angles as Juan Marichal, but batters never forgot how he glared at them (or squinted, because he was near-sighted) as if settling an ancient score.

Gibson snubbed opposing players and sometimes teammates who dared speak to him on a day he was pitching, and he didn’t even spare his own family.

“I’ve played a couple of hundred games of tic-tac-toe with my little daughter and she hasn’t beaten me yet,” he once told The New Yorker’s Roger Angell. “I’ve always had to win. I’ve got to win.”

St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Bob Gibson receives a congratulatory hug from catcher Tim McCarver after he pitched a three-hitter in the team’s 7-2 victory in Game 7 over the Boston Red Sox to win the World Series at Fenway Park in Boston on Oct. 12, 1967. (AP Photo)

Equally disciplined and impatient, Gibson worked so quickly that broadcaster Vin Scully joked that he pitched as if his car was double-parked.

Ball in hand, he was no nonsense on the hill. And he had no use for advice, scowling whenever catcher Tim McCarver or anyone else thought of visiting the mound.

“The only thing you know about pitching is you can’t hit it,” Gibson was known to say.

His concentration was such that he seemed unaware he was on his way to a World Series single game strikeout record (surpassing Sandy Koufax’s 15) in 1968 until McCarver convinced him to look at the scoreboard.

During the regular season, Gibson struck out more than 200 batters nine times and led the National League in shutouts four times, finishing with 56 in his career. In 1968, thirteen of his 22 wins were shutouts, leading McCarver to call Gibson “the luckiest pitcher I ever saw. He always pitches when the other team doesn’t score any runs.”

He was, somehow, even greater in the postseason, finishing 7-2 with a 1.89 ERA and 92 strikeouts in 81 innings. Despite dominating the Tigers in the 1968 Series opener, that year ended with a Game 7 loss—hurt by a rare misplay from star center fielder Curt Flood—and a rewriting of the rules that he would long resent.

Gibson’s 1.12 ERA in the regular season was the third lowest for any starting pitcher since 1900 and by far the best for any starter in the post-dead-ball era, which began in the 1920s.

His 1968 performance, the highlight of the so-called “Year of the Pitcher,” left officials worried that fans had bored of so many 1-0 games. They lowered the mound from 15 to 10 inches in 1969 and shrank the strike zone.

“I was pissed,” Gibson later remarked, although he remained a top pitcher for several years and in 1971 threw his only no-hitter, against Pittsburgh.

Gibson had a long major league career even though he was a relatively late bloomer and was in his early 30s in 1968. Signed by the Cards as an amateur free agent in 1957, he had early trouble with his control, a problem solved by developing one of baseball’s greatest sliders, along with a curve to go with his hard fastball. He knew how to throw strikes and how to aim elsewhere when batters stood too close to the plate.

Hank Aaron once counseled Atlanta Braves teammate Dusty Baker about Gibson.

“Don’t dig in against Bob Gibson he’ll knock you down,” Aaron said, according to the Boston Globe. “He’d knock down his own grandmother if she dared to challenge him. Don’t stare at him, don’t smile at him, don’t talk to him. He doesn’t like it. If you happen to hit a home run, don’t run too slow, don’t run too fast. If you happen to want to celebrate, get in the tunnel first. And if he hits you, don’t charge the mound, because he’s a Gold Glove boxer.”

Only the second Black (after Don Newcombe) to win the Cy Young Award, he was an inspiration when insisting otherwise. Gibson would describe himself as a “blunt, stubborn Black man” who scorned the idea he was anyone’s role model and once posted a sign over his locker reading “I’m not prejudiced. I hate everybody.”

But he was proud of the Cards’ racial diversity and teamwork, a powerful symbol during the civil rights era, and his role in ensuring that players did not live in segregated housing during the season.

Bob Gibson (L) and Tim McCarver, members of the St. Louis Cardinals’ 1967 World Series champion team, take part in a ceremony honoring the 50th anniversary of the victory, before a baseball game between the Cardinals and the Boston Red Sox in St. Louis, Mo., on May 17, 2017. (Jeff Roberson/AP Photo)

He was close to McCarver, a Tennessean who would credit Gibson with challenging his own prejudices, and the acknowledged leader of a club which featured whites (McCarver, Mike Shannon, Roger Maris), Blacks (Gibson, Brock, and Flood), and Hispanics (Orlando Cepeda, Julian Javier).

“Our team, as a whole, had no tolerance for ethnic or racial disrespect,” Gibson wrote in “Pitch by Pitch,” published in 2015. “We’d talk about it openly and in no uncertain terms. In our clubhouse, nobody got a free pass.”

Cardinals pitcher Jack Flaherty, who is Black, grew close to Gibson in recent years. The right-handers would often talk, the 24-year-old Flaherty soaking up advice from the great who wore No. 45.

“That one hurts,” said Flaherty, the Cardinals’ losing pitcher Friday night. “He’s a legend, first and foremost, somebody who I was lucky enough to learn from. You don’t get the opportunity to learn from somebody of that caliber and somebody who was that good very often.”

“I had been kept up on his health and where he was at. I was really hoping it wasn’t going to be today. I was going to wear his jersey today to the field but decided against it,” he said.

Born Pack Robert Gibson in Omaha on Nov. 9, 1935, Gibson overcame childhood illness that nearly cost him his life. His father died soon before his birth, and he grew up in poverty. His mother was a laundry worker, trying to support Gibson and his six siblings.

“Growing up without a father is a hardship and deprivation that is impossible to measure,” Gibson wrote in “From Ghetto to Glory,” one of a handful of books he published.

Gibson went to Omaha Tech High School and stayed in town, attending Creighton from 1954-57, and averaging 20.2 points during his college basketball career. The roughly 6-foot, 2-inch Gibson, who seemed so much taller on the mound, spent the 1957-58 season with the Globetrotters before turning his full attention to baseball.

At Omaha in the minor leagues, he was managed by Johnny Keane, who became a mentor and cherished friend, “the closest thing to a saint” he would ever know in baseball.

Gibson was often forced to live in separate hotels from his white teammates and was subjected to vicious taunts from fans, but he would remember Keane as “without prejudice” and as an unshakeable believer in his talent.

His early years with the Cardinals were plagued by tensions with manager Solly Hemus, who openly used racist language and was despised by Gibson and other Cardinals. Hemus was fired in the middle of the 1961 season and replaced, to Gibson’s great fortune, by Keane.

St. Louis Cardinals ace pitcher Bob Gibson throws to Detroit Tigers’ Norm Cash during the ninth inning of Game 1 of the baseball World Series at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, Mo., on Oct. 2, 1968. (AP Photo, File)

The pitcher’s career soon took off. He made the first of his eight National League All-Star teams in 1962, and the following year went 18-9 and kept the Cardinals in the pennant race until late in the season.

In 1964, a year he regarded as his favorite, he won three times in the last 11 games as the Cardinals surged past the collapsing Philadelphia Phillies and won the National League title. Gibson lost Game 2 of the World Series against the New York Yankees, but he came back with wins in Games 5 and 7 and was named the MVP.

The series was widely regarded as a turning point in baseball history, with the great Yankee dynasty falling the following year and the Cardinals embodying a more modern and aggressive style of play. Keane stuck with Gibson in Game 7 even after the Yankees’ Clete Boyer and Phil Linz homered in the ninth inning and narrowed the Cardinals’ lead to 7-5. He would later say of Gibson, who retired Bobby Richardson on a pop fly to end the series, that he had a commitment to “his heart.”

Gibson was also close to Keane’s successor, Red Schoendienst, who took over in 1965 after Keane left for the Yankees. Gibson enjoyed 20-game seasons in 1965 and 1966 and likely would have done the same a third straight year, but a Roberto Clemente line drive broke his leg in the middle of the season. (Gibson was so determined he still managed to finish the inning).

Gibson returned in September, finished 13-7 during the regular season and led the Cardinals to the 1967 championship, winning three times and hitting a home run off Red Sox ace Jim Lonborg in Game 7 at Boston’s Fenway Park. The final out was especially gratifying he fanned first baseman George Scott, who throughout the series had been taunting Gibson and the Cards.

But 1968 was on a level few had seen before. He began slowly, losing five of his first eight decisions despite an ERA of 1.52, and fumed over the lack of hitting support. (“Starvation fare,” Angell would call it).

But from early June to late August, Gibson was unbeatable. He won 15 straight decisions, threw 10 shutouts, and at one point allowed just three earned runs during 101 innings. One of those runs scored on a wild pitch, another on a bloop hit.

He was at his best again in the opener of the World Series, giving a performance so singular that his book “Pitch by Pitch” was dedicated entirely to it.

On a muggy afternoon in St. Louis, facing 31-game winner Denny McLain and such power hitters as Al Kaline—who also died this year—Norm Cash and Willie Horton, he allowed just five hits and walked one in a 4-0 victory. Gibson struck out at least one batter every inning and in the ninth fanned Kaline, Cash, and Horton to end with 17, the final pitch a slow breaking ball that left Horton frozen in place.

“I was awed,” Tigers second baseman Dick McAuliffe later said. “He doesn’t remind me of anybody. He’s all by himself.”

In Game 4, Gibson homered as he led the Cards to a 10-1 romp over McLain and 3-to-1 advantage in the series. But the Tigers won the next two and broke through in the finale against Gibson, who had a one-hitter with two out in the seventh inning, and the score 0-0.

Gibson allowed two singles before Flood, a Gold Glove center fielder, misplayed Jim Northrup’s drive to left center and the ball fell, before the warning track, for a two-run triple. The Cardinals lost 4-1 and Gibson would grimace even decades later when asked about the game.

By the mid-1970s, his knees were aching and he had admittedly lost some of his competitive fury. On the last day of the 1974 season, with a 2-1 lead and a division title possible, he gave up a two-run homer to the Montreal Expos’ Mike Jorgensen in the eighth inning and the Cards lost 3-2.

He retired after 1975, humiliated in his final appearance when he gave up a grand slam home run to the Chicago Cubs’ Pete LaCock. (When the two faced off a decade later, at an old-timers game, Gibson beaned him).

Gibson was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1981, and the Cards retired his uniform number. He had a far less successful career as a coach, whether for the New York Mets and Braves in the 1980s, or for the Cardinals in 1995.

He was married twice, most recently to Wendy Gibson, and spent much of his retirement at his longtime home in the Omaha suburb of Bellevue. He was active in charitable causes and hosted a popular golf event in Omaha that drew some of the top names in sports.

Gibson worried that young people were forgetting about baseball history, and he spoke with dismay about a Cardinal player who knew nothing about Jackie Robinson. But in 2018, Gibson himself was honored when the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra commissioned a rap song in his honor.

The lyrics inspired by “From Ghetto to Glory”—”He was a game-changer The complete gamer Throw a pitch so fast It’ll rearrange ya He’s no stranger He’s Bob Gibson been on a mission He changed the game forever The pitcher was his position.”


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Hall of Famer Bob Gibson, the dominating St. Louis Cardinals pitcher who won a record seven consecutive World Series starts and set a modern standard for excellence when he finished the 1968 season with a 1.12 ERA, died Friday. He was 84.

The Cardinals confirmed Gibson’s death shortly after a 4-0 playoff loss to San Diego ended their season. He had long been ill with pancreatic cancer in his hometown of Omaha, Nebraska.

Gibson’s death came on the 52nd anniversary of perhaps his most overpowering performance, when he struck out a World Series record 17 batters in Game 1 of the 1968 World Series against Detroit.

One of baseball’s most uncompromising competitors, the two-time Cy Young Award winner spent his entire 17-year career with St. Louis and was named the World Series MVP in their 1964 and ’67 championship seasons. The Cards came up just short in 1968, but Gibson was voted the National League’s MVP and shut down opponents so well that baseball changed the rules for fear it would happen again.

Gibson died less than a month after the death of a longtime teammate, Hall of Fame outfielder Lou Brock. Another pitching great from his era, Tom Seaver, died in late August.

“I just heard the news about losing Bob Gibson and it’s kind of hard losing a legend. You can lose a game, but when you lose a guy like Bob Gibson, just hard,” Cardinals star catcher Yadier Molina said. “Bob was funny, smart, he brought a lot of energy. When he talked, you listened. It was good to have him around every year. We lose a game, we lose a series, but the tough thing is we lost one great man.”

At his peak, Gibson may have been the most talented all-around starter in history, a nine-time Gold Glove winner who roamed wide to snatch up grounders despite a fierce, sweeping delivery that drove him to the first base side of the mound and a strong hitter who twice hit five home runs in a single season and batted .303 in 1970, when he also won his second Cy Young.

Baseball wasn’t his only sport, either. He also starred in basketball at Creighton and spent a year with the Harlem Globetrotters before totally turning his attention to the diamond.

Averaging 19 wins a year from 1963-72, he finished 251-174 with a 2.91 ERA, and was only the second pitcher to reach 3,000 strikeouts. He didn’t throw as hard as Sandy Koufax, or from as many angles as Juan Marichal, but batters never forgot how he glared at them (or squinted, because he was near-sighted) as if settling an ancient score.

Gibson snubbed opposing players and sometimes teammates who dared speak to him on a day he was pitching, and he didn’t even spare his own family.

“I’ve played a couple of hundred games of tic-tac-toe with my little daughter and she hasn’t beaten me yet,” he once told The New Yorker’s Roger Angell. “I’ve always had to win. I’ve got to win.”

Equally disciplined and impatient, Gibson worked so quickly that broadcaster Vin Scully joked that he pitched as if his car was double-parked.

Ball in hand, he was no nonsense on the hill. And he had no use for advice, scowling whenever catcher Tim McCarver or anyone else thought of visiting the mound.

“The only thing you know about pitching is you can’t hit it,” Gibson was known to say.

His concentration was such that he seemed unaware he was on his way to a World Series single game strikeout record (surpassing Sandy Koufax’s 15) in 1968 until McCarver convinced him to look at the scoreboard.

During the regular season, Gibson struck out more than 200 batters nine times and led the National League in shutouts four times, finishing with 56 in his career. In 1968, thirteen of his 22 wins were shutouts, leading McCarver to call Gibson “the luckiest pitcher I ever saw. He always pitches when the other team doesn’t score any runs.”

He was, somehow, even greater in the postseason, finishing 7-2 with a 1.89 ERA and 92 strikeouts in 81 innings. Despite dominating the Tigers in the 1968 Series opener, that year ended with a Game 7 loss — hurt by a rare misplay from star center fielder Curt Flood — and a rewriting of the rules that he would long resent.

Gibson’s 1.12 ERA in the regular season was the third lowest for any starting pitcher since 1900 and by far the best for any starter in the post-dead-ball era, which began in the 1920s.

His 1968 performance, the highlight of the so-called “Year of the Pitcher,” left officials worried that fans had bored of so many 1-0 games. They lowered the mound from 15 to 10 inches in 1969 and shrank the strike zone.

“I was pissed,” Gibson later remarked, although he remained a top pitcher for several years and in 1971 threw his only no-hitter, against Pittsburgh.

Gibson had a long major league career even though he was a relatively late bloomer and was in his early 30s in 1968. Signed by the Cards as an amateur free agent in 1957, he had early trouble with his control, a problem solved by developing one of baseball’s greatest sliders, along with a curve to go with his hard fastball. He knew how to throw strikes and how to aim elsewhere when batters stood too close to the plate.

Hank Aaron once counseled Atlanta Braves teammate Dusty Baker about Gibson.

“Don’t dig in against Bob Gibson he’ll knock you down,” Aaron said, according to the Boston Globe. “He’d knock down his own grandmother if she dared to challenge him. Don’t stare at him, don’t smile at him, don’t talk to him. He doesn’t like it. If you happen to hit a home run, don’t run too slow, don’t run too fast. If you happen to want to celebrate, get in the tunnel first. And if he hits you, don’t charge the mound, because he’s a Gold Glove boxer.”

Only the second Black (after Don Newcombe) to win the Cy Young Award, he was an inspiration when insisting otherwise. Gibson would describe himself as a “blunt, stubborn Black man” who scorned the idea he was anyone’s role model and once posted a sign over his locker reading “I’m not prejudiced. I hate everybody.”

But he was proud of the Cards’ racial diversity and teamwork, a powerful symbol during the civil rights era, and his role in ensuring that players did not live in segregated housing during the season.

He was close to McCarver, a Tennessean who would credit Gibson with challenging his own prejudices, and the acknowledged leader of a club which featured whites (McCarver, Mike Shannon, Roger Maris), Blacks (Gibson, Brock and Flood) and Hispanics (Orlando Cepeda, Julian Javier).

“Our team, as a whole, had no tolerance for ethnic or racial disrespect,” Gibson wrote in “Pitch by Pitch,” published in 2015. “We’d talk about it openly and in no uncertain terms. In our clubhouse, nobody got a free pass.”

Cardinals pitcher Jack Flaherty, who is Black, grew close to Gibson in recent years. The right-handers would often talk, the 24-year-old Flaherty soaking up advice from the great who wore No. 45.

“That one hurts,” said Flaherty, the Cardinals’ losing pitcher Friday night. “He’s a legend, first and foremost, somebody who I was lucky enough to learn from. You don’t get the opportunity to learn from somebody of that caliber and somebody who was that good very often.”

“I had been kept up on his health and where he was at. I was really hoping it wasn’t going to be today. I was going to wear his jersey today to the field but decided against it,” he said.

Born Pack Robert Gibson in Omaha on Nov. 9, 1935, Gibson overcame childhood illness that nearly cost him his life. His father died soon before his birth, and he grew up in poverty. His mother was a laundry worker, trying to support Gibson and his six siblings.

“Growing up without a father is a hardship and deprivation that is impossible to measure,” Gibson wrote in “From Ghetto to Glory,” one of a handful of books he published.

Gibson went to Omaha Tech High School and stayed in town, attending Creighton from 1954-57, and averaging 20.2 points during his college basketball career. The roughly 6-foot, 2-inch Gibson, who seemed so much taller on the mound, spent the 1957-58 season with the Globetrotters before turning his full attention to baseball.

At Omaha in the minor leagues, he was managed by Johnny Keane, who became a mentor and cherished friend, “the closest thing to a saint” he would ever know in baseball.

Gibson was often forced to live in separate hotels from his white teammates and was subjected to vicious taunts from fans, but he would remember Keane as “without prejudice” and as an unshakeable believer in his talent.

His early years with the Cardinals were plagued by tensions with manager Solly Hemus, who openly used racist language and was despised by Gibson and other Cardinals. Hemus was fired in the middle of the 1961 season and replaced, to Gibson’s great fortune, by Keane.

The pitcher’s career soon took off. He made the first of his eight National League All-Star teams in 1962, and the following year went 18-9 and kept the Cardinals in the pennant race until late in the season.

In 1964, a year he regarded as his favorite, he won three times in the last 11 games as the Cardinals surged past the collapsing Philadelphia Phillies and won the National League title. Gibson lost Game 2 of the World Series against the New York Yankees, but he came back with wins in Games 5 and 7 and was named the MVP.

The series was widely regarded as a turning point in baseball history, with the great Yankee dynasty falling the following year and the Cardinals embodying a more modern and aggressive style of play. Keane stuck with Gibson in Game 7 even after the Yankees’ Clete Boyer and Phil Linz homered in the ninth inning and narrowed the Cardinals’ lead to 7-5. He would later say of Gibson, who retired Bobby Richardson on a pop fly to end the series, that he had a commitment to “his heart.”

Gibson was also close to Keane’s successor, Red Schoendienst, who took over in 1965 after Keane left for the Yankees. Gibson enjoyed 20-game seasons in 1965 and 1966 and likely would have done the same a third straight year, but a Roberto Clemente line drive broke his leg in the middle of the season. (Gibson was so determined he still managed to finish the inning).

Gibson returned in September, finished 13-7 during the regular season and led the Cardinals to the 1967 championship, winning three times and hitting a home run off Red Sox ace Jim Lonborg in Game 7 at Boston’s Fenway Park. The final out was especially gratifying he fanned first baseman George Scott, who throughout the series had been taunting Gibson and the Cards.

But 1968 was on a level few had seen before. He began slowly, losing five of his first eight decisions despite an ERA of 1.52, and fumed over the lack of hitting support. (“Starvation fare,” Angell would call it).

But from early June to late August, Gibson was unbeatable. He won 15 straight decisions, threw 10 shutouts and at one point allowed just three earned runs during 101 innings. One of those runs scored on a wild pitch, another on a bloop hit.

He was at his best again in the opener of the World Series, giving a performance so singular that his book “Pitch by Pitch” was dedicated entirely to it.

On a muggy afternoon in St. Louis, facing 31-game winner Denny McLain and such power hitters as Al Kaline — who also died this year — Norm Cash and Willie Horton, he allowed just five hits and walked one in a 4-0 victory. Gibson struck out at least one batter every inning and in the ninth fanned Kaline, Cash and Horton to end with 17, the final pitch a slow breaking ball that left Horton frozen in place.

“I was awed,” Tigers second baseman Dick McAuliffe later said. “He doesn’t remind me of anybody. He’s all by himself.”

In Game 4, Gibson homered as he led the Cards to a 10-1 romp over McLain and 3-to-1 advantage in the series. But the Tigers won the next two and broke through in the finale against Gibson, who had a one-hitter with two out in the seventh inning, and the score 0-0.

Gibson allowed two singles before Flood, a Gold Glove center fielder, misplayed Jim Northrup’s drive to left center and the ball fell, before the warning track, for a two-run triple. The Cardinals lost 4-1 and Gibson would grimace even decades later when asked about the game.

By the mid-1970s, his knees were aching and he had admittedly lost some of his competitive fury. On the last day of the 1974 season, with a 2-1 lead and a division title possible, he gave up a two-run homer to the Montreal Expos’ Mike Jorgensen in the eighth inning and the Cards lost 3-2.

He retired after 1975, humiliated in his final appearance when he gave up a grand slam home run to the Chicago Cubs’ Pete LaCock. (When the two faced off a decade later, at an old-timers game, Gibson beaned him).

Gibson was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1981, and the Cards retired his uniform number. He had a far less successful career as a coach, whether for the New York Mets and Braves in the 1980s, or for the Cardinals in 1995.

He was married twice, most recently to Wendy Gibson, and spent much of his retirement at his longtime home in the Omaha suburb of Bellevue. He was active in charitable causes and hosted a popular golf event in Omaha that drew some of the top names in sports.

Gibson worried that young people were forgetting about baseball history, and he spoke with dismay about a Cardinal player who knew nothing about Jackie Robinson. But in 2018, Gibson himself was honored when the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra commissioned a rap song in his honor.

The lyrics inspired by “From Ghetto to Glory” — “He was a game changer The complete gamer Throw a pitch so fast It’ll rearrange ya He’s no stranger He’s Bob Gibson been on a mission He changed the game forever The pitcher was his position.”

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July 12, 1974: Bob Forsch throws a complete-game shutout for his first career win

Bob Forsch wasn’t leaving his first major league win to chance.

After losing his debut appearance with just two runs allowed over 6 2/3 innings, Forsch returned five days later, on July 12, 1974, and threw nine shutout innings to lead the Cardinals to a 10-0 victory in the second game of a double-header against the Braves.

A Sacramento, California, native selected by the Cardinals in the 26 th round of the 1968 draft, Forsch began his career as a third baseman. In 1970, the Cardinals moved him to the pitcher’s mound, where he began working his way up from the low-A affiliate in Lewiston, Idaho. After going 8-5 with a 3.67 ERA with Triple-A Tulsa, Forsch was called up to replace the injured Sonny Siebert.

Despite walking five batters in his debut, Forsch held the Reds to just four hits. However, Cesar Geronimo struck with an RBI double in the second inning and a solo home run in the seventh. A second-inning home run from Ted Simmons provided Forsch his only run support in the 2-1 loss.

On July 12, Forsch took his second shot at his first big league win. He had perhaps the unenviable task of following Bob Gibson in the second game of a double-header. Gibson, who entered the game with 2,997 strikeouts, was poised to make history against the Braves, but with only two K’s, he finished the day one shy of becoming just the second pitcher in history to reach the 3,000-strikeout milestone.

“I just sat there kind of in awe,” Forsch said. “He was so close to punching it out. I never dreamed two weeks ago I’d be sitting in the dugout watching history.”[1]

Following the Cardinals’ 7-3 loss to the Braves, it was Forsch’s turn to take the mound before the crowd of 51,267, at the time the seventh-largest crowd in Busch Stadium history.[2]

“It was scary when I first went out there, with all those people,” Forsch said. “I didn’t look up in the stands because there seemed to be so many people.” [3]

Forsch’s fears didn’t last long. He retired the side in order in the first inning, then benefitted from a nine-run Cardinals rally. In all, 13 Redbirds stepped to the plate as Reggie Smith drove in four runs with a sacrifice fly and a three-run triple. Bake McBride hit an RBI double and Joe Torre and Mike Tyson each hit RBI singles as the Cardinals scored nine runs on four hits and two Braves errors.

From there, Forsch took control of the game. He retired the first 10 batters he faced before Craig Robinson singled to center field. In the fifth, he worked around a one-out error before retiring the next eight hitters he faced.

Forsch even got the first hit of his career, a single to left field, in the third inning. Afterwards, he couldn’t wait to tell his wife, who had noted his struggles at the plate in his debut. It had been two years since Forsch had taken an at-bat after playing two years in the American Association, where the designated hitter was used.

“When I called her in Tulsa after the game (against the Reds), she didn’t say a thing about my pitching,” Forsch said. “All she said was, ‘Boy, your hitting was terrible.’”[4]

After McBride hit an RBI single to right field to give the Cardinals a 10-0 lead, Forsch returned to the hill in the ninth inning looking to close out his first victory. Vic Correll led off the inning with a single, and with one out, Darrell Evans singled as well. With runners at first and second, however, Forsch got Dusty Baker to hit into a 6-4-3, game-ending double play.

With the shutout, Forsch lowered his ERA to 1.15 through his first 15 2/3 major league innings.

“Although Forsch is a mere 2,992 strikeouts behind Gibson, the kid already looks as if he’s ready to help the Cardinals the way Gibby has for so many years,” Neal Russo wrote for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.[5]

Forsch’s shutout took just 92 pitches, including 72 fastballs. Of the 31 Braves that stepped to the plate, only two worked the count to three balls.[6]

“I threw mostly fastballs after getting that lead,” Forsch said. “I didn’t want to relax and get behind the hitters.”[7]

Forsch was rocked in his next start, allowing seven earned runs in just 2/3 of an inning, but rebounded nicely with complete-game wins in each of his next two appearances. He finished the season with a 7-4 record and a 2.97 ERA in 100 innings pitched.

It marked the start of a 16-year career that included 15 seasons with the Cardinals. He retired following the 1989 season with 168 wins, 163 of which came with the Cardinals, and two no-hitters (you can read about his first no-hitter here and his second here). Forsch was inducted into the Cardinals Hall of Fame in 2015.

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[1] Paul LeBar, “Forsch Brings Redbirds Split,” Springfield Leader and Press, July 13, 1974.

[2] Neal Russo, “Big Days Ahead For Cards’ Forsch, Gibson,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, July 13, 1974.

[3] Neal Russo, “Big Days Ahead For Cards’ Forsch, Gibson,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, July 13, 1974.

[4] Neal Russo, “Redbirds’ Rookie Bare Eager To Prove Point,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, July 14, 1974.

[5] Neal Russo, “Big Days Ahead For Cards’ Forsch, Gibson,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, July 13, 1974.

[6] Neal Russo, “Big Days Ahead For Cards’ Forsch, Gibson,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, July 13, 1974.

[7] Neal Russo, “Big Days Ahead For Cards’ Forsch, Gibson,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, July 13, 1974.


Watch the video: Bob Gibson throws a no-hitter