Monday, June 7, 2010

Bob Gibson

"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."

-Dick Allen

Pack Robert "Bob" Gibson was one of the greatest, and by far the most intimidating pitchers in the history of Major League baseball. Gibson was born on November 9, 1935 in Omaha, Nebraska, three months after the death of his father. During his childhood, Bob suffered from asthma, pneumonia, rickets, and a heart murmur, and despite this he still played basketball and baseball through his youth, then at Tech High School, later receiving a basketball scholarship to Creighton University.

Gibson's professional athletic career began in 1957 when he signed a contract with the St Louis Cardinals which earned him a $3,000 bonus. Bob though, put the start of his major league career on hold for a year electing to play basketball with the Harlem Globetrotters, earning himself the nickname "Bullet" Bob Gibson during his time with the team. In 1958 he left the Globetrotters, even tough he was one of the teams most popular players, because he grew tired of the clowning around. Bob spent 1958 pitching for the Cardinals AAA affiliate in Omaha, rising up to the majors in 1959.

In 1962, Bob Gibson would post the first of his nine 200 strikeout season, but it was from 1963-1970 that Gibson was quite possibly the most dominating pitcher in the game, posting a record of 156-81 during that span. Gibson was also awarded, Cy Young Awards in 1968 and 1970, World Series MVP Awards in 1964 and 1967 and 8 Gold Glove Awards.

1968 was the year of Bob Gibson. He would finish the season with an incredible 1.12 ERA, 13 shutouts, and at one point a streak of 47 consecutive scoreless innings. Due to a weak Cardinals offense that season he would only post a 22-9 record, losing five 1-0 decisions. The Cardinals would go on to face the Detroit Tigers in the 1968 World Series. In Game 1 of the series, Gibson struck out 17 Tigers, setting a World Series single game record that has yet to be broken. The Cardinals would unfortunately go on to lose the Series 4 games to 3.

Bob Gibson would go on to have another big year in 1971. On August 4, he beat the San Francisco Giants to earn his 200th career win, and on the 14th of August, he threw a no hitter against the Pittsburgh Pirates, striking out the great Willie Stargell three times.

The last great milestone of Bob Gibson's career happened on July 17th, 1974 when he struck out Cesar Geronimo earning Gibson his 3,000th career strikeout. Coincidently, Geronimo would also become the 3,000th career strikeout of Nolan Ryan in 1980. Gibson would continue to pitch for a few more years, before retiring after the 1975 season.

In 1981 Bob Gibson had his #45 retired by the St. Louis Cardinals which coincided with his election to the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame. Even with retirement and all the accolades, Bob Gibson's competitive nature continued. In 1992, Bob pitched at an Old-Timers game in San Diego during the All-Star Game festivities, allowing a home run to Reggie Jackson. The next year at the game, Gibson was on the mound and Jackson was at the plate. This time Gibson threw a brush back pitch at Jackson. Though, he didn't hit Jackson, Gibson made his point, and Jackson would not get a hit off of him that year.

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