On Friday, Hall of Fame MLB pitcher Bob Gibson who spent 17 years playing for the St. Louis Cardinal passed away after a one-year battle with pancreatic cancer.
The legendary 84-year-old is considered the greatest pitcher in Cardinals history. Gibson played for the organization from 1959 to 1975. He won two out of the three World Series he played in. Additionally, he won two Cy Young awards – the annual award for the MLB’s best pitcher.
During Gibson’s career, he earned a reputation for being the most intimidating pitcher in all of baseball. The longtime Cardinals pitcher died on the 52nd anniversary of his record-setting 17 strikeout World Series game against the Detroit Tigers in 1968.
“Bob Gibson was arguably one of the best athletes and among the fiercest competitors to ever play the game of baseball,” Cardinals owner William DeWitt Jr. said in a statement. “Even during the time of his recent illness, Bob remained a strong supporter of the team and remained in contact with members of the organization and several of our players. He will be sorely missed.”
More On Bob Gibson’s Storied Career
Gibson’s baseball career ran parallel with the peak of the civil rights movement.
“I pitched in a period of civil unrest, of black power and clenched fists and burning buildings and assassinations and riots in the street,” wrote Gibson in his memoir.
“There was a country full of angry black people in those days, and by extension — and by my demeanor on the mound — I was perceived as one of them,” he wrote. “There was some truth to that, but it had little, if anything, to do with the way I worked a batter. I didn’t see a hitter’s color. I saw his stance, his strike zone, his bat speed, his power and his weaknesses.”
Previous to his professional baseball career, Gibson was the first Black basketball player for the Creighton University Blue Jays. He also spent a short period with the Harlem Globetrotters.
After retiring from the MLB, Gibson opened a restaurant in his hometown of Omaha, NE. In addition, he served as chairman of the board of a bank catering to Black residents.
Gibson didn’t buy into the narrative of his intimidation tactics that he became famously known for. In fact, he didn’t think he was any more frightening than other pitchers of his day.
“Every pitcher tried to intimidate batters when I played,” Gibson said in 1987 to the Chicago Tribune. “Maybe I was just a little more successful.”
The hitters he faced who contributed to his 3,117 career strikeouts while pitching for the Cardinals for 17 years would likely disagree.