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."

FOX Sports Midwest @FSMidwest

Mike Shildt on the passing of Bob Gibson: "It's another big loss right there with Lou that is hard to swallow... Our hearts and prayers go out to them. We know he's in a place with more comfort and peace." https://t.co/2NEFQRLWR5

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

Frank Thomas @TheBigHurt_35

Rip Mr Bob Gibson! We will miss you dearly. A standard setter on the mound your entire career and one of the most feared competitors to ever play the game of baseball! I totally enjoyed my conversations with you in Cooperstown. #Thanksforeverything#TrueLegend#Godbless

Dave “Smoke” Stewart @Dsmoke34

As much as I wanted be, tried to be like Bob Gibson, there was only one Bob Gibson! My deepest sympathy to the Gibson family. RIP to the #1 starter of the Black Aces. 🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿

Lucas Giolito @LGio27

Bob Gibson - the ultimate competitor and my favorite pitcher of all time. I wish I had the chance to meet you and talk baseball for a little bit. Rest In Peace ❤️

Jack Flaherty @Jack9Flaherty

RIP ❤️ ✊🏽 Thank you for all your wisdom You are a legend ❤️✊🏽 https://t.co/9HVldf8vPG

FOX Sports Midwest @FSMidwest

Hall of Famer Bob Gibson has passed away at the age of 84. Jim Edmonds on Bob Gibson: "Gibby was just full of life and just so amazing to be around. It's a tough pill to swallow right now." https://t.co/DP73X1mNvk

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.