Terrible news. Bob Gibson passed away today at the age of 84. Last year it was announced he had pancreatic cancer; it’s one of the worst types to have, but his death still comes as a shock. He becomes the third Hall of Famer, and second Cardinals icon to die in just the past 6 weeks, following Tom Seaver and Gibson’s teammate Lou Brock.
He was always known as a fierce competitor. Hank Aaron told Dusty Baker as a rookie to not make eye contact with Gibson and not charge the mound if Gibson plunked him if he didn’t want Gibson to kick his butt. His Hall of Fame career was legendary. He earned MVP honors in both 1964 and 1967. His 1968 was incredible, with a still-record 1.12 ERA, a 22-9 record and 13 shut outs. He was a 9 time all star, 2 time Cy Young winner (1968 and 1970), and the 1968 NL MVP. For his career, he had 3117 K’s, a 251-174 record, and 2.91 ERA. He was elected to the Hall of Fame on his first ballot, 1981. He was a great overall athlete too, having spent a season playing basketball with the Harlem Globetrotters.
As feared as he was on the field, he was just as loved off it. The current Cardinals only learned of his passing after coming off the field after their playoff game against the Padres. The way some players were choking up talking about him, it was clear they were much more upset over his death than they were over being eliminated from the playoffs.
As a kid, one of the first books I ever owned, I possessed a book about pitching by Bob Gibson. I tried to copy his delivery of his curveball (and Seaver’s fastball). Of course, this was before I realized just how scary comebackers up the middle really are.
Condolences to his family, friends, and Catds fans everywhere…and I’d really like to not have to write another one of these for a long time.