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Pack Robert "Bob" Gibson (born November 9, 1935) is a former right-handed baseball pitcher, having played for the St. Louis Cardinals from to . He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Famemarker in .

Gibson was a fierce competitor who rarely smiled and was known to throw close, fast inside pitches to let batters know who was in charge, similar to his contemporary and fellow Hall of Famer Don Drysdale. Even so, Gibson had good control and hit only 102 batters in his career (fewer than Drysdale's 154). Revered by St. Louis baseball fans, Gibson dominated with his fastball, sharp slider and a slow, looping curveball. He now resides in the Omaha suburb of Bellevuemarker with his wife and son, and is a special instructor coach for the St. Louis Cardinals.

Youth and early career

Born Pack Gibson, after his father who died 3 months before his birth, Gibson changed his name to Robert when he turned 18. Despite a childhood filled with health problems, including rickets, asthma, pneumonia, and a heart murmur, he was active in sports as a youth, particularly baseball and basketball. After a standout career in baseball and basketball at Tech Highmarker in Omaha , Gibson won a basketball scholarship to Creighton Universitymarker.

In , Gibson received a $3,000 bonus to sign with the Cardinals. He delayed his start with the organization for a year, playing basketball with the Harlem Globetrotters, earning the nickname "Bullet" and becoming famous for backhanded dunks. Gibson continued to play basketball even after starting his career with the Cardinals, until general manager Bing Devine offered Gibson a bonus if he would quit playing basketball during baseball's off-seaon. In he spent a year at the triple-A farm club in Omaha. He graduated to the major leagues in and had the first of nine 200-strikeout seasons in . Cardinals fans gave Gibson the nickname, "Hoot".

The Dominator

In the eight seasons from to , he won 156 games and lost 81, for a .658 winning percentage. He won nine Gold Glove Awards, was awarded the World Series MVP Award in 1964 and 1967, and won Cy Young Awards in and .

In Game 7 of St. Louis's World Series triumph on October 15, 1964, Gibson held on to earn the win despite allowing ninth-inning home runs to New York Yankees Phil Linz and Clete Boyer.

In , Gibson made a remarkable recovery from a broken leg to become the premier pitcher in that year's World Series. Gibson's normal follow-through included landing hard on his right leg. On July 15, he was hit by a line drive off the bat of Roberto Clemente. The broken leg put Gibson on the disabled list until early September, while the Cardinals continued to play exceptionally well, with Nelson Briles who took Gibson's spot in the rotation, reeling off nine consecutive wins. With Gibson back in the lineup, the Cardinals secured the National League pennant on September 18, 10½ games ahead of the San Francisco Giants.

In the 1967 World Series against the Boston Red Sox, Gibson allowed only three earned runs and 14 hits over three complete game victories (Games 1, 4, and 7), the latter two marks tying Christy Mathewson's 1905 World Series record. He also hit a vital home run in Game 7.

The 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, and was the lowest major league ERA in 54 years (see Dutch Leonard). He threw 13 shutouts, just three behind Grover Alexander's 1916 major league record of 16, and in one phenomenal stretch allowed only two earned runs in 92 innings (0.20 ERA). Gibson also pitched 47 consecutive scoreless innings, at the time the third-longest scoreless streak in major league history, to Walter Johnson's 56 in , and Don Drysdale's 58⅔ set earlier during the 1968 season. Gibson also won the National League MVP Award, the last MVP won by a National League pitcher to date. With the batting anemic even on the Cardinal team, Gibson lost nine games against 22 wins, despite his record-setting low 1.12 ERA; the team could not score many runs. He lost five 1-0 games, one of which was Gaylord Perry's no-hitter on September 17. Gibson was never "knocked from the box" in 34 starts.

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).

Gibson's 1968 season was so successful that his performance is widely cited in Major League Baseball's decision to lower the pitcher's mound by five inches in from 15 inches to 10 inches. The change had only a slight effect on him; he went 20-13 that year, with a 2.18 ERA, 4 shutouts and 28 complete games. Since then, Major League Baseball has put heavier emphasis on pitch counts and relief pitching; these, combined with other changes in baseball and ballparks, may make Gibson's 1968 record unrepeatable by another pitcher.

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. Gibson became the ninth National League pitcher and the 15th pitcher in Major League history to throw an immaculate inning.

Gibson achieved two highlights in August . On the 4th of the month, he defeated the Giants 7-2 at Busch Memorial Stadiummarker for his 200th career victory. Ten days later, he no-hit the Pittsburgh Pirates 11-0 at Three Rivers Stadiummarker. 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 Pittsburghmarker in more than 60 years; none had been pitched in the 62-year (mid- to mid- ) history of Three Rivers Stadium's predecessor, Forbes Fieldmarker.

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. He accomplished this at home, at Busch Stadiummarker on July 17, 1974; the victim was César Gerónimo of the Cincinnati Reds. (Gerónimo would also become Nolan Ryan's 3,000th strikeout victim, in .)

Gibson was a good hitter and was sometimes used by the Cardinals as a pinch-hitter. In 1970, he hit .303 for the season, which was over 100 points higher than his teammate, shortstop Dal Maxvill. 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, plus stealing 13 bases and walking 63 times for a .206/.243/.301 line. He is one of only two pitchers since World War II with a career batting average of .200 or higher, and with at least 20 home runs and 100 RBIs (Bob Lemon, who had broken into the majors as a third baseman, is the other at .232).

Gibson was above average as a baserunner and thus was occasionally used as a pinch runner, despite managers' general reluctance to risk injury to pitchers in this way.

The constant pounding on Gibson's right knee took its toll, eventually inflicting knee injuries that contributed to Gibson losing his effectiveness. In his final season 1975 he went 3-10 with a 5.04 ERA, and announced his retirement earlier that season. In his final appearance, Gibson was summoned as a reliever in a 6-6 game against the Cubs and gave up the game-winner to an unheralded player, most well known for his odd name and being the son of TV personality, Peter Marshall. “When I gave up a grand slam to Pete LaCock,” Bob Gibson said later, “I knew it was time to quit.”

The Cardinals honored him by declaring a "Bob Gibson Day" in September, 1975.

Don't mess with 'Hoot'

Gibson was known for pitching inside to batters. Dusty Baker received the following advice from Hank Aaron about facing Gibson:"'Don't dig in against Bob Gibson, he'll knock you down. 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.' I'm like, 'Damn, what about my 17-game hitting streak?' That was the night it ended."

Dick Allen stated that, "Bob Gibson was so mean he would knock you down and then meet you at home plate to see if you wanted to make something of it."

Gibson showed no mercy, even to players he liked. Gibson's closest friend on the Cardinals was first baseman Bill White, who was later traded to the Philadelphia Phillies. The first time White batted against Gibson as a Phillie, Gibson hit him on the arm with a fastball (there were no hard feelings, and the friends had dinner together that night).

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 you can't hit it."

Gibson maintained this image even into retirement. In , an Old-Timers' game was played at Jack Murphy Stadium in San Diegomarker as part of the All-Star Game festivities, and Reggie Jackson hit a home run off Gibson. When the Old-Timers' Day game was played in , the 57-year-old Gibson threw the 47-year-old Jackson a brushback pitch. The pitch was not especially fast and did not hit Jackson, but the message was delivered, and Jackson did not get a hit.

Once, while providing commentary for a Cardinal baseball game on radio station KMOX, Gibson was queried by fellow announcer and former Cardinal, Mike Shannon, as to how Gibson might have faced home run king Babe Ruth. Shannon referred to Ruth's pointing to the centerfield bleachers (an indication that Ruth would hit the ball into the bleachers), to which Gibson responded, "If a batter ever pointed to the bleachers in front of me, he'd have some sore ribs.".

Gibson casually disregards his reputation for intimidation, though, saying that he made no concerted effort to seem intimidating. He recently joked that the only reason he made faces while pitching was because he needed glasses and could not see the catcher's signals which is given credence since Cardinal's catchers went to tapping for signals instead of the more usual hand signs.

Honors



His number 45 is retired by the St. Louis Cardinals, and in , he was inducted into the Baseball Hall Of Fame.

In , 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.

He has a star on the St. Louis Walk of Fame. A bronze statue of Gibson by Harry Weber is located in front of Busch Stadium, commemorating Gibson along with other St. Louis Cardinals greats.

In 2004, he was named as the most intimidating pitcher of all time from the Fox Sports Net series The Sports List.

The street on the north side of Rosenblatt Stadiummarker, home of the College World Series in his hometown of Omaha, is named Bob Gibson Boulevard.

Statistics

Seasons G GS CG W L PCT ERA SHO IP H ER HR BB SO WHIP O-AVE O-OBP O-SLG ERA+
17 (1959-1975) 528 482 255 251 174 .591 2.91 56 3,884.1 3,279 1,258 257 1,336 3,117 1.19 .228 .297 .325 127


See also



References

David Halberstam's October 1964 (ISBN 0-679-43338-4; reprint ISBN 0-449-98367-6).

External links



Notes

  1. Bob Gibson at Baseball Reference
  2. Bob Gibson at the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame
  3. Hall Of Famer Defends Inside Pitches To Batter, by Art Spander, Baseball Digest, November 1987, Vol. 46, No. 11, ISSN 0005-609X
  4. Bob Gibson at Baseball Reference
  5. Bob Gibson at Hoopedia
  6. Bob Gibson at the Baseball Page
  7. Bob Gibson at Baseball Reference
  8. Bob Gibson at Baseball Almanac
  9. National League Gold Glove Award winners at Baseball Reference
  10. World Series Most Valuable Player Awards at Baseball Reference
  11. National League Cy Young Award winners at Baseball Reference
  12. 1964 World Series Game 7 box score at Baseball reference
  13. 1967 National League Team Statistics and Standings at Baseball Reference
  14. 1967 St. Louis Cardinals statistics at Baseball Reference
  15. 1967 World Series at Baseball Reference
  16. 1967 World Series Game 7 box score at Baseball Reference
  17. Bob Gibson at the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame
  18. 1968 National League Pitching Leaders at Baseball Reference
  19. 1968 National League Most Valuable Player Award voting results at Baseball Reference
  20. September 17, 1968 Cardinals-Giants box score at Baseball Reference
  21. Bob Gibson at the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame
  22. All-time and Single-Season World Series Pitching Leaders at Baseball Reference
  23. 1968 World Series Game 1 box score at Baseball Reference
  24. Bob Gibson at Baseball Reference
  25. May 12, 1969 Dodgers-Cardinals box score at Baseball Reference
  26. Bob Gibson at the Baseball Page
  27. August 14, 1971 Cardinals-Pirates box score at Baseball Reference
  28. August 14, 1971 Cardinals-Pirates box score at Baseball Almanac
  29. Bob Gibson at the Baseball Page
  30. www.retrosheet.org
  31. Bob Gibson at Baseball Reference
  32. Bob Gibson at Baseball Reference
  33. www.boston.com
  34. www.stlpublicradio.org
  35. Cardinals Retired Numbers at MLB.com
  36. Major League Baseball All-Century Team at mlb.com
  37. St. Louis Walk of Fame inductees



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