A Biography in 1,000 Players No. 41 Bob Gibson (Number 12 Pitcher)

Personally, I would have put Gibson in front of Perry, but I already had a couple of other pitchers pass Perry and I thought I would have to give Gibson too many points.

I was 8 years old in 1967 and it was the 1967 was the first World Series I watched as a baseball fan with some knowledge of the game. I was cheering for Gibson’s Cardinals even though I knew pretty much nothing about them as the Red Sox beat the Twins the last two games to get to the World Series. This was 8-year old logic. Of course, the two best players for the Cardinals in that World Series were Bob Gibson and Lou Brock. The Cardinals ended up winning the World Series in 7 games with Bob Gibson winning 3 of them. Lou Brock hit off .400 in the series, slugged over .600 and stole 7 bases, one a game. They became heroes of mine as well as two of my favorite players. I cheered for both players the rest of their careers. I read an autobiography by Gibson and it was there I first read about race issues. I also learned a lot about race issues in a book by Bill Russell the basketball player. I was in grade school at the time I read these books, but both had a big impact on my life. When I was in first grade we moved from North Dakota to California as my Dad was in the Air Force. There were some black kids in my class. I didn’t think of them as different from other kids. I did notice they were black. At that point I didn’t even know there were problems between the races or why there would be. I mostly learned that from reading sports books.

As it so happened, I became a little sick the night before the seventh game of the World Series. My Dad help convinced my Mom I was sick enough to stay home. I remember the Cardinals taking the early lead. Bob Gibson hitting a home run off Jim Lonborg. St. Louis having a big lead. Gibson tiring some in the 8th and 9th. He gave up one hit thru 7 but one each in the 8th and the 9th. I think I kind of noticed and the announcers said he was getting tired. He pitched 27 innings in the World Series. However, Boston didn’t threaten enough to give any worries.

The 1968 World Series went 7 games also. I knew I couldn’t pull off being sick again and the bad thing was I was perfectly healthy. I had to go to school for game 7. For me, the highlight of the series was game 4 on Sunday. Gibson pitched a one-run game. The Cardinals scored early and often. Lou Brock went 3 for 5 scored 2 runs, drove in 4 and stole his 7th base of the series. The Cardinals went up 3 game to 1. I thought the series was over. Even if Detroit won the next two games Gibson would win game 7.

Well Detroit won the next two games. Mickey Lolich pitched on short rest. He matched Gibson in a scoreless game. However, with 2 out in the seventh Gibson gave up 2 singles. Then he gave up a hard-hit ball to centerfield. Curt Flood misplayed the ball slightly and the Cardinals were soon down 2-0. They lost 4-1, but Gibson pitched the whole game. I like what he did the locker room. Even though his team had lost a big game, he said it was a great season and we should celebrate. It was a great message.

Gibson played a season with the Harlem Globetrotters which shows what a great versatile athlete he was. I wonder if he went to baseball as it was more competitive.

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Author: Douglas Byzewski

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