Team: St. Louis Cardinals, 1959-1975
In the 1960s, when power pitchers ruled the game, there were few as dominant as Bob Gibson. He was among the most exciting and successful of World Series performers, setting records and winning championships for the St. Louis Cardinals.
Robert Gibson (born in 1935) grew up in the slums of Omaha, Nebraska, and overcame a heart murmur and asthma as a child to become an outstanding athlete in both baseball and basketball. The Kansas City Monarchs offered him a contract after his high school graduation, but he turned it down to play both sports at Creighton University. The Cardinals signed him to a contract in 1957, and he played an unimpressive season in their farm system.
Bob Gibson won award after award,
and was an outstanding athelete.
After the season, he played basketball with the Harlem Globetrotters for one year. From 1957 to 1960, he was generally unimpressive on the mound, and he didn't receive many starts. In 1961, new Cardinal manager Johnny Keane put Gibson in the starting rotation to stay.
Though Bob led the league in walks that year, he won 13 games. The following season he struck out 208 hitters, the first of nine seasons of 200-plus Ks-on his way to the record for strikeouts during the decade. In 1963, he went 18-9. In 1964, he was 19-12 and led the Cardinals to a World Series.
Gibson was intimidating in World Series play, winning an NL-record seven games and losing only two as the Cards won two world championships, in 1964 and 1967, and lost one in 1968. He won two games in the 1964 fall classic, and notched an ERA of 3.00 while winning three games in 1967.
In 1968, Gibson won both the MVP and Cy Young Awards (as did Denny McLain in the AL), helping to prompt a lowering of the mound and a reduced strike zone. His record was 22-9, with an NL-record 1.12 ERA and a league-best 268 Ks. He pitched 13 shutouts. In the World Series that year, he had a single-game-record 17 strikeouts.
Pride played a role in Gibson's character and his success. He had to stay in a private home during his first spring training in 1958, and the struggle to overcome racial barriers stayed with him. He helped force the Cardinals' Florida hotels to accept black players in the early 1960s.
Gibson won another Cy Young Award in 1970. He had over 20 wins in five seasons, and had double-figure wins in 14 straight years. A superb athlete, he won nine consecutive Gold Gloves. Gibson was inducted in 1981.
Here are Bob Gibson's major league totals:
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