Pitcher Bob Gibson, whose dominance in the 1960s helped the St. Louis Cardinals win two World Series titles, died Friday at the age of 84. Gibson announced in July of 2019 that he had pancreatic cancer, and after a year in hospice in his home town of Omaha, Nebraska, succumbed to the disease.
Gibson’s legendary career included a National League MVP, two National League Cy Young awards, two World Series MVPs, nine All-Star selections and nine Gold Glove awards.
Gibson went 251-174 with a 2.91 ERA for the Cardinals from 1959 to 1975, making him, without a doubt the greatest pitcher in Cardinal history, and after Stan Musial, the greatest player in Cardinals history. Gibson won two Cy Young Awards, one in 1968 and another in 1970. He was the first Cardinal to win the Cy Young and the only to win twice.
He had five 20-win seasons and stared 36 games in a single season twice in his career. In 1969, he recorded 28 complete games. Gibson was the second pitcher, joining the great Walter Johnson, in major league history to reach 3000 strikeouts, a distinction Gibson held at the time of his retirement in 1975. The Cardinals retired Gibson’s uniform Number 45 before his final season had even ended that year.
In his World Series victories, Gibson picked up wins against the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox. In game 7 of the 1964 World Series, he pitched a complete game to beat Mickey Mantle and the Yankees.
In 1967 against the Red Sox, Gibson won games 1, 4 and 7, making him the first pitcher to record a complete game victory in a game 7 of two World Series. Gibson set a record with 17 strikeouts in game 1 of the 1968 World Series against the Detroit Tigers, which remains a postseason record.
Friday, the day of his death, marked the 52nd anniversary of that phenomenal record. He had a 1.89 ERA and 92 strikeouts in nine postseason starts.
After the 1968 season, because of how Gibson and other pitchers dominated hitters in the Year of the Pitcher, Major League Baseball lowered the mound from 15 inches to 10 inches and shrunk the size of the strike zone.
Gibson’s ERA rose, but he had higher strikeout totals (269 and 274) the following two seasons. He won the Cy Young again in 1970 and pitched a no-hitter against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Aug. 14, 1971.
The great Bob Gibson will always be remembered and honored by the Cardinal organization, his family, and all his fans.
I was fortunate to get to see Bob Gibson pitch in St. Louis in 1967. I had a seat behind home plate and it was amazing the movement and control of the baseball that he had. I will always remember that experience and condolences to all his family and friends.