Bob Gibson dies at 84; Cardinals Corridor of Famer made historical past with ’68 season


Hall of Fame pitcher Bob Gibson, who put together one of the best individual seasons in baseball history, died Friday after a long battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 84.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported Gibson died in hospice care in his native Omaha, Neb.

Gibson was already a star with the Cardinals when he captivated the baseball world in 1968, the Year of the Pitcher. He posted a modern era-record 1.12 ERA over 304 2/3 (officially 305) innings. He fired 13 shutouts, including five in a row in midseason. He also threw 28 complete games en route to winning the NL Cy Young and MVP awards. 

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The domination continued in the World Series after the Cards cruised to the National League pennant. Matched up against Tigers 31-game winner Denny McLain in Game 1, Gibson set a postseason record by striking out 17 Detroit batters in a complete-game victory. 

Gibson pitched three times in that World Series, winning Games 1 and 4 but losing Game 7. He went the distance in each one. In fact, he threw eight complete games in nine World Series starts, including Game 7 wins for St. Louis in 1964 and 1967. He was 7-2 in those nine starts.

Gibson won a second Cy Young award in 1970, although his ERA was a full two runs higher (3.12) than his 1968 mark.

He spent his entire 17-year career with the Cardinals, retiring after the 1975 season. He posted 251 wins and 3,117 strikeouts for his career; those numbers, plus his World Series accomplishments, got him inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1981.

After retiring, Gibson worked as a pitching coach under former St. Louis teammate Joe Torre with the Mets, Braves and Cardinals.

Though Gibson was a baseball legend, his best sport may have been basketball. He starred in college for hometown Creighton in the mid-1950s and spent part of the 1957-58 season with the Harlem Globetrotters before signing with the Cardinals. He joined the Redbirds in 1959 and was a rotation regular by 1961.

Gibson is the second Cardinals Hall of Famer to die in less than a month. Lou Brock, a teammate of Gibson’s for more than a decade, died Sept. 6 at age 81.

Many of the current St. Louis players were acquaintances of Gibson and benefited from his instruction. They learned of his death after they were eliminated from their Wild Card Series in San Diego on Friday night. Catcher Yadier Molina and pitcher Jack Flaherty got emotional speaking about him.

Yadi on the passing of Bob Gibson: “The game is a game. You can lose a game but when you lose a guy like Bob Gibson, it’s just hard. I wish his family the best. We lost another one, Cardinal Nation lost another one.”

— FOX Sports Midwest (@FSMidwest) October 3, 2020

Flaherty on Bob Gibson: “He’s a legend first and foremost. He’s someone who I was lucky enough to develop a relationship with, I was lucky enough to learn from. You don’t get that from people like that very often.”

— FOX Sports Midwest (@FSMidwest) October 3, 2020


Melinda Martin