When you think of baseball during the 1960’s, you typically will reflect on how pitchers dominated that decade. Some pitchers who made a name for themselves included Jim Bunning, Roger Craig, Sandy Koufax, Al Downing, Don Drysdale, Denny McLain, Jim Kaat, Johnny Podres, and the list goes on. However, there was one pitcher on that list who was considered by many to be one of the nastiest pitchers in baseball, and that was Robert “Bobby” Gibson. He pitched for the St. Louis Cardinals from 1959 until 1975. One big thing that happened during Gibson’s time that seems not to happen now is that he was loyal to one team.
He was born on November 9, 1935 in Omaha, Nebraska. He would end up having a rather rough childhood though after he was dealing with many health problems like rickets, and had serious cases of either asthma or pneumonia when he was only three years old. Throughout Gibson’s childhood, he would be active in many informal and organized sports that included baseball and basketball. As he was graduating from Creighton, life became rather busy for him. In the spring of 1957, he would gain interest from both the Harlem Globetrotters and the St. Louis Cardinals. He would end up playing for both organizations.
He would end up delaying his start with the St. Louis Cardinals as he would play for the Harlem Globetrotters for one season and would quickly get the nickname “Bullet.” He would begin his career with the Cardinals at the start of the 1959 season. He would make his debut on April 15 as a relief pitcher for the Cardinals. After his appearance, he would end up getting sent back to the minors and would be recalled on July 30 as a starting pitcher. Gibson would end up having a similar 1960 season in which he would end spending time between both the Cardinals organization and their Rochester affiliate until the middle of June.
Let us fast forward to the year that made Bob Gibson. The 1968 season became “The Year of the Pitcher” and Gibson was a part of the season. This was the only season where the Most Valuable Player award would end up going to two pitchers. The NL MVP went to Bob Gibson after having a record of 22-9 with an ERA of 1.12. He also had 13 shutouts, pitched 304.2 innings, and had a WHIP of under 1. The American League MVP was given to Detroit Tigers pitcher Denny McLain. It would just so happen that the two MVP’s would end up crossing paths during the 1968 World Series. However, Bob Gibson would end up beating Denny McLain. The Tigers would go on to win the series.
Due to the overall pitching stats that MLB pitchers were having during the 1968 season, which was lead by Gibson’s records, are often mentioned as one of the reasons why MLB would decide to alter the pitching related rules. Bob Gibson’s last season for the Cardinals was 1975 after he was with them for sixteen seasons. During his sixteen year career, he would compile a record of 251-174 and would have an ERA of 2.91. He also would go on to holding many records that would include most gold glove for pitchers, the single season ERA, and had the most strikeouts during a World Series game. He would end up getting inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1981 as the only person that year.