Baseball Hall of Famer Bob Gibson died Friday at age 84, the St. Louis Cardinals confirmed to ESPN.
Gibson, who was born in Omaha, Nebraska, played all of his 17 MLB seasons with the Cardinals, from 1959-75.
Gibson announced in July 2019 that he had pancreatic cancer.
The nine-time All-Star and two-time World Series champion earned 251 wins, struck out 3,117 and had a 2.91 ERA, and was also known as a fierce competitor who rarely smiled.
In 1968, “The Year of the Pitcher,” Gibson made a case for one of the greatest seasons ever produced by a starting pitcher. He went 22-9 with a 1.12 ERA and 13 shutouts, leading to the pitcher’s mound being lowered from 15 to 10 inches. Gibson completed 28 of his 34 starts. And in the World Series against the Detroit Tigers that year, he recorded a record 17 strikeouts during Game 1.
“It was just so hard to beat him,” Cubs slugger and fellow Hall of Famer Billy Williams has said about Gibson. “One year, Roberto Clemente hit a line drive that hit him right in the shin. He pitched another five, six innings to finish the game, then it turned out he had a broken leg.”
Jack Flaherty, who was the starting and losing pitcher for the Cardinals in Friday’s season-ending loss to the San Diego Padres, shared his condolences on Twitter.
Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina, who has played his entire career with the Cardinals, said the news of Gibson’s death put the season-ending loss in perspective.
“I just heard the news about losing Bob Gibson and it’s kinda hard losing a legend,” Molina said. “The game is the game, you can lose a game but when you lose a guy like Bob Gibson it’s just hard, I just want to say that.”
Flaherty also talked about Gibson following the game.
“He’s a legend first and foremost, I was lucky enough to learn from and you don’t get that from someone like that very often,” Flaherty said. “… Just to have the ability to form a relationship and for him to offer up his advice and offer up anything he could give, it’s special.”
Gibson, who also went by the nickname “Hoot” after cowboy and silent movie star Hoot Gibson, won two Cy Young Awards and the NL MVP Award in 1968.
Gibson was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility, in 1981. He was inducted into the team’s Hall of Fame in 2014.
Among his other honors, Gibson was ranked No. 31 on The Sporting News’ list of the 100 Greatest Baseball Players, and was elected to the Major League Baseball All-Century Team in 1999.
After retiring, Gibson was an “attitude coach” for Joe Torre, his former teammate, with the New York Mets, then followed Torre to the Atlanta Braves where he was a pitching coach. Before that, he was a backup color analyst for ABC’s Monday Night Baseball in 1976, and briefly was a color commentator for the N.Y. Nets of the American Basketball Association.
In 1990, Gibson was a color commentator for baseball games on ESPN, and in 1995, he again worked with Torre as a pitching coach, this time with the Cardinals.
Gibson wrote his memoir “Pitch by Pitch,” in 2015.
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