Back in October 1968, I ran home with my little transistor radio hoping to catch Game 1 of the World Series on TV. I knew that my mother would have the game on TV, so my objective was to get home as quickly as I could.
I ran faster and faster when I heard that Gibson was pitching a shutout and about to set a post-season record for strikeouts. Well, I didn’t make it home on time, but I did hear strikeout #17 on the radio and caught the post-game interview.
It was arguably the greatest pitching performance of the 20th century because he was facing a Detroit lineup that included Al Kaline, Norm Cash, Willie Horton, Bill Freehan, and Jim Northrup. The 1968 A.L. champion Tigers were a great team and it’s hard to believe anyone could strike out 17 against a lineup like that. He was as dominating as any pitcher in one game.
The amazing Bob Gibson died this weekend. He was 84 and fighting cancer. Over the years, Gibson won 251 games with a 2.91 ERA. He also threw 56 shutouts! Add 255 complete games plus winning Game 7 in 1964 versus New York and 1967 versus Boston!
In the aforementioned season of 1968, he won 22 games, pitched 28 complete games and 13 shutouts. His ERA was a superhuman 1.12! That is not a typo: it was indeed 1.12 over 304 innings. Gibson added another no-hitter in 1971 and was inducted to the Hall of Fame in 1981.
He was absolutely awesome and died shortly after Lou Brock passed away, his teammate from those Cardinals who won three N.L. pennants in five years. It has been a sad month for Cardinal nation.
I never had the opportunity to see him in person, but I saw him lots of times on TV. As I told my late father one day, if my life depended on one pitch, I would have Bob Gibson on the mound.