Bob Gibson, Hall of Famer and Cardinals Legend, Dies at 84

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistOctober 3, 2020

FILE - In this March 1968 file photo, St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Bob Gibson is pictured during baseball spring training in Florida. Gibson is fighting pancreatic cancer. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch said the 83-year-old Hall of Famer was diagnosed with the cancer several weeks ago and revealed the news Saturday, July 13, 2019, to the other living Hall of Famers. (AP Photo, File)
Uncredited/Associated Press

Hall of Famer Bob Gibson died at age 84 Friday, St. Louis Cardinals spokesman Brian Bartow confirmed to the New York Times

According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch's Rick Hummel, Gibson was in hospice care after having spent the past year battling pancreatic cancer.

KMOV.com shared a statement from Cardinals manager Mike Shildt: "When it rains, it pours. We knew he wasn't in great shape the last couple days. It's another big loss that's hard to swallow, right after Lou [Brock]. And for the Gibson family, our thoughts and prayers go out to them. We know he's in a place with more comfort and peace."

A number of current and former players shared their thoughts on the legendary ace:

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Gibson's 89.2 WAR are third-most in St. Louis Cardinals history, trailing only Stan Musial (128.3) and Rogers Hornsby (91.4), per Baseball Reference. Over a 17-year career—all of which was spent in St. Louis—he was a nine-time All-Star, two-time Cy Young, two-time World Series MVP and the 1968 MVP.

Most fans immediately think of Gibson's dominant 1968 season when recalling the right-hander's exploits.

In 34 starts, he went 22-9 with 28 complete games and 13 shutouts. His 1.12 ERA was the lowest since the deadball era, and it's doubtful anybody will ever come close. Following the "Year of the Pitcher," MLB lowered the mound by five inches and shrunk the strike zone.

The Cardinals were World Series champions in 1964 and 1967. Their repeat bid fell short in 1968 through little fault of Gibson. He fanned 17 Detroit Tigers batters in the opening game and pitched 27 innings over the course of the series.

Friday is the 52nd anniversary of his legendary Game 1 performance.

Gibson's 7.2 strikeouts per nine innings might seem somewhat modest by modern standards, but they do little to convey the fear he put into opposing hitters. Hank Aaron famously told teammate Dusty Baker that Gibson would "knock down his own grandmother" at the plate in order to prove a point.

Gibson was enshrined into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1981, receiving the nod in his first year on the ballot.