Thursday, September 27, 2018

Celebrate '68: Thank you, Bob Gibson... 1.12

                On September 27, 1968, Bob Gibson capped off his historical season by shutting out the Houston Astros 1-0 in front of 18,658 fans at Busch Stadium in St. Louis. The six-hit shutout was his 13th shutout of the season, as well as his 28th complete game of the campaign. Gibson’s ERA coming into his final start of the season was 1.16. After shutting the Astros down, Gibson’s ERA dropped to 1.12, which stands as the lowest earned run average during a single season in the live ball era.

            The game played at Busch that September evening was looked at by many as a tune up for Gibson as the Cardinals were set to take on the Detroit Tigers in the World Series. Gibson looked at it like he looked at every other game he started… he came to win. He was a fierce competitor in start number one, and he was the same fierce competitor in start 34.

            Houston skipper Harry “The Hat” Walker called on Larry Dierker to face Gibson. Dierker did a formidable job keeping the Birds off the board until the fifth when he opened the inning with a walk to Julian Javier. Dierker struck the next man out before Gibson sacrificed Javier to second with a bunt. Javier took third on a single by Lou Brock, then scored when Curt Flood singled him in. Brock was thrown out at home trying to score on the same play to end the inning, but the damage was done, Gibson had the run he would need, and he was on the way to victory.

            Houston scattered a few hits along the way, however, they could not figure out a way to get a runner home. Gibson was doing what Gibson did that season, which was set men down. He sailed into the ninth with nine strikeouts under his belt. He struck out ten and eleven to begin the inning, then finished the game off with getting Rusty Staub to hit a pop fly to Javier at second base. Gibson walked off the mound a 22-game winner and the owner of an ERA of 1.12 that has not been matched since.

            In the history of Major League Baseball only three pitchers have posted a season ERA that was below Gibson’s mark of 1.12.  Tim O’Keefe posted a 0.86 ERA as a member of the National League’s Troy Trojans in 1880, Mordecai Brown posted a 1.04 ERA as a member of the Chicago Cubs in 1904, and Dutch Leonard posted a 0.96 ERA as a member of the Boston Red Sox in 1914. All three of those pitchers accomplished their feats during the dead ball era, making Gibson’s 1.12 an accomplishment like no other.

            That year, “The Year of The Pitcher”, had a plethora of pitching stars. Denny McLain, who Gibson would face off against during the World Series won 31 games, making him the last hurler to win 30 or more. Cleveland’s Luis Tiant posted a 1.60 ERA to earn the American League’s earned run pitching title. Juan Marichal of the Giants led the National League with 26 wins. There were so many accomplishments by pitchers during that season that it looks absolutely ridiculous. 49 starting pitchers had an earned run average below 3.00 on the season and seven starters had an ERA under 2.00.

The dominance in pitching in 1968 caused Major League Baseball to bring changes to the game. The league lowered the mound from 15 to 10 inches in an effort to generate offense. Many in Cardinals Nation credit Bob Gibson for the mound being lowered, however, the fact of the matter is Gibson was one of many men who were responsible for the league choosing to make the change. Gibson simply led the pack.

            Both Gibson and McLain took home MVP and Cy Young honors in their respective leagues. As mentioned before they would face off in the World Series. Gibson opened the series up by breaking a Fall Classic record striking out 17 men, and Gibby then went out and won game four, in a series that would go seven. Gibson started the seventh game and was beaten by Mickey Lolich. The World Series loss was a hard pill to swallow for that pennant winning club. Especially for Bob Gibson who carried that team so far.   

            As we take one more look back at this Celebrate ’68 series I am going to recap the numbers that Gibson posted during that 1968 season: In 34 starts Gibson won 22 games and lost 9. He completed 28 of his 34 starts and recorded 13 shutouts. In 304.2 innings he faced 1,161 men innings and struck out 268 of them. He was an All Star, a Gold Glove winner, the Cy Young winner, and the Most Valuable Player in the National League.  With a wicked fastball and a slider that would send men packing, Gibson put together a year that is celebrated 50 years later and will likely be talked about 50 years from now. For the magic number of 1.12 will live forever and as it lives on Bob Gibson’s name will be right next to it.

Sources included:, The Southeast Missourian, The Schenectady Gazette, The Victoria Advocate, The Free Lance-Star, The Dispatch, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, The Pittsburgh Press, Newsday, as well as a wide variety of that I have utilized throughout this season.

I would like to thank each and every one of you that have taken the time to read these blogs. You doing so has made every minute that I have spent doing this well worth it. I would also like to thank Dan McLaughlin for showing support throughout the season. It has been fun to say the least.

I have always known the number 1.12. I have always appreciated and admired what Gibson accomplished that season and throughout his career as a Cardinal. With that said, by looking back at the ’68 season like we have done together here this year has made me appreciate it in a way that I could have never done without it. Therefore, I want to thank one more person in closing.

Thank you, Bob Gibson.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Celebrate '68: The Dodgers Beat Gibby Thanks To An Error

                On September 22, 1968, Bob Gibson tossed his 27th complete game of the year, but ended up on the losing end of a 3-2 Dodgers victory over the Cardinals in Los Angeles. The loss by the Cards put Gibson’s record at 21-9, while his ERA rose from 1.13 to 1.16. Gibby had one more start in front of him, and in that start, he would reach what many of us consider a magic number: 1.12.

            The Dodgers called on future Hall of Famer Don Sutton to face Gibson. 23-year-old Sutton was in control that day. He surrendered a hit to Dal Maxvill in the third, then held the Cardinals hitless until the eighth. Meanwhile, Gibson kept the Dodgers off the board until the sixth when Paul Popovich knocked in Tom Haller to make it 1-0. Willie Crawford made it 2-0 Dodgers with a solo shot in the seventh and Gibson found himself in a hole.

            Gibson and company were not in the hole long. Sutton’s run of dominance over the Redbird lineup wore off in the top of the eighth. Although, he did retire the first two men he faced in the frame. Dal Maxvill and Gibson began the rally with a pair of singles. Lou Brock followed suit with a single to right that brought Maxvill into score and moved Gibson over to third. Sutton then balked, Gibson scored, Lou moved to second and the game was knotted up 2-2.

            The tied ballgame did not last long. Gibson began the bottom of the eighth by issuing a walk to Bill Sudakis. Wes Parker moved Sudakis over to second with a sac bunt before disaster struck… Popovich came to the plate having already knocked in the run in the sixth. He was just a .218 hitter, who likely had one job, which was to move Sudakis over to third. Popovich hit a flyball to Joe Hague in right that looked like it would do exactly that. However, Hague threw a wild one into third trying to get Sudakis out and once the runner saw the ball get away, he made the dash to home. The score was 3-2. Gibson struck the last man he faced in the inning out and headed to the dugout back in a hole.

            Sutton gave up a single to Orlando Cepeda in the top of the ninth, which ended his day. Jim Brewer came on in relief and set the next three men down in a row. After looking at this entire season, it would be easy to say that this loss was perhaps the most heartbreaking loss that Gibson had to endure that season. With that said, the Cardinals had clenched the pennant, he and his teammates would be going onto represent the National League in the World Series, and Gibson would go out one more time during the regular season and drop that number down to 1.12.

Sources included: The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, The St. Joseph Gazette, The Schenectady Gazette, and

Monday, September 17, 2018

Celebrate '68: Gibson Tosses His 26 Complete Game; Perry No-Hits The Cards

                On September 17, 1968, Giants hurler Gaylord Perry spoiled Bob Gibson’s 26th complete game of the season by no-hitting the Cardinals at Candlestick Park in San Francisco. Gibson allowed just four hits in the contest. Perry’s effort was one for the record books, though, and it led to the historical 1-0 no-hit win.

The first of Gibson’s four hits allowed came just three pitches into the game. Gibby threw a fastball inside to Ron Hunt sending who sent it over the wall in left. Little did Gibson know that, along with Perry’s tremendous display, that one pitch moved his record to 21-8.

            After walking Mike Shannon in the second inning, Perry was masterful. The future Hall of Famer said that he first started thinking about a potential no-no in the fifth inning.  Ironically,  he had a scare in the fifth when, according to him, Perry served up a “fat pitch” to Orlando Cepeda. That fat one ended up being a pop up to Willie McCovey. The closest the Cardinals came to getting a hit was in the sixth. Dal Maxvill started that inning by ripping one up the middle. Perry fell off the mound, snagged the ball, then threw Maxie out at first. Two batters later, Bobby Tolan scorched one in between first and second only to watch Willie McCovey get to it just in time to throw it to Perry who covered first.

            The day was Perry’s. He went into the eighth having only given up the one walk. He retired the first two he faced in that inning and gave up his second walk of the game to Phil Gagliano. Moments later, Perry recorded his eighth strikeout of the game.

            Perry went into the ninth having to face Lou Brock, Bobby Tolan, and Curt Flood. He sat Brock and Tolan down on groundouts, then caught Curt Flood looking for his ninth strikeout of the game. Gaylord Perry had joined a coveted list of men with the words no-hitter on their resumes. It was the only no-no of Perry’s Hall of Fame career.

            Gibson, who would not add his name to that coveted list until 1973, still pitched one helluva ballgame that day in San Fran. He was simply outdone by his counterpart. Gibson gave up 11 hits in his previous start and managed to walk away with a 5-4 victory. That’s just how baseball goes. At the end of this day, Gibson’s ERA sat at 1.13, which is where it sat before the contest began. He had struck out 10 men and walked just two. The disappointment of this one would not last long, because Gibson knew his number would be called on again, and five days later that was the case… See ya then, folks. 

Sources included:  The Pittsburgh Press, The Schenectady Gazette, The Southeast Missourian, and

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Celebrate '68: 21 Wins For Gibson

                On September 11, 1968, Bob Gibson locked down his 21st win of the season with a 5-4 victory over the Dodgers at Busch Stadium in St. Louis. The victory was not an easy one for Gibson, as all four runs were charged to the hurler, raising his ERA from 1.03 to 1.13. Despite that fact, Gibson went the distance in the contest, which earned him his 25th complete game of the season.

            The Cardinals were facing an uphill battle just minutes after Gibson took the mound, when Los Angeles’ leadoff hitter Willie Crawford belted a home run. Gibby surrendered a two out double to Ron Fairly in the first as well, but he was able to get out of that frame down just 1-0.

            His counterpart Mike Kekich took the mound for the Dodgers and he was not sharp. The Redbirds were able to get the lead back right after Kekich gave a one out single to Julian Javier which was followed by a walk to Curt Flood. Javier scored when the next man up, Orlando Cepeda, singled to make it 1-1.

            Kekich was able to get out of that first inning with the game tied, but the same could not be said for the second inning. He gave up a one out double to Ron Davis and walked Dal Maxvill before getting Gibby out on a flyball that moved Davis over to third. Lou Brock ripped a double into left that brought both runners in. The score was 3-1 and Kekich was headed to the showers, after skipper Walter Alston called on Mudcat Grant to take over the mound.

            Grant was able to get out of the second when Javier grounded out. However, the pitcher had a rough go in the third when Flood opened with a single, Cepeda doubled him to third, and Mike Shannon hit a sac fly to bring Flood home to score. Tim McCarver doubled to bring Cepeda in, which brought the game to 5-1.

            Most days, you give Bob Gibson a lead like that and the game would be over. Not on this day in Cardinal history. He still had his work cut out for him. The Dodgers began to mount a comeback in the fifth. Gibson began the inning by plunking Willie Crawford, the same man who hit the leadoff home run in the first. Willie Davis followed him with a single. Just like that, the Dodgers had runners on first and third with no outs, and they were back in business. Tom Haller singled in Crawford to make it 5-2. Gibson’s pitch escaped McCarver which brought Davis in to score. The score was 5-3 with no outs and a man on second. Gibson regrouped and sat the next three men down in order.

            Mudcat Grant had gotten things figured out since allowing the runs in the third. He was able to hold the Cardinals in check thereafter. Gibson did the same against his foes until the ninth. He began that frame by getting back-to-back outs. He needed just one more out for the win. As they say, that last out of a ballgame can prove to be the hardest one to get, and it certainly was a tough one that day. The club from L.A. found life as Willie Davis, Tom Haller, and Ron Fairly each singled, respectively, ultimately bringing Davis in to score. Gibson stared at the next batter, Len Gabrielson, coming up to home plate. With men on first and second and two outs, he knew it was time to put this one down in the books. The story wrote itself when, moments later, Gabrielson hit a fly ball to Curt Flood in center field. 21 wins for Gibson.

            The countdown was on. The Cardinals’ magic number was down to four. There was talk of champagne, of another pennant, and of an upcoming World Series that could feature the likes of Denny McLain and Bob Gibson. That “Year of the Pitcher” is an astounding thing to look at, but I do believe that you can look at this game, along with many others, and realize that these games were not easy. In this instance, Gibson gave up 11 hits on the day, struck out six, and gave up one home run. Some of the wins Gibson earned that season almost seemed easy when we look back on them. This win is almost more impressive because he fought so hard for it. He reached down with the game on the line after a rough day at the office and found a way to win. After all, Bob Gibson was a warrior on the mound.

Sources included: The St. Joseph Gazette, The Schenectady Gazette, The Victoria Advocate, and

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Celebrate '68: Gibson Takes The Loss Against San Fran

            On September 6, 1968, Bob Gibson lost just his second game in his last 20 starts, falling 3-2 to the San Francisco Giants during the first game of a doubleheader at Busch. Gibson went just eight innings in the contest, which ended a string of six complete games. The loss moved Gibson’s record to 20-7 and raised his ERA from 0.99 to 1.03.

            Many of the Cardinal faithful expected Gibson to go head-to-head with Juan Marichal. However, the Giants manager Herman Franks shuffled his starters at the beginning of the game and called on Bobby Bolin to pitch in the first game. Bolin was no Juan Marichal, but he got the job done for his club.

            The Cardinals did get to him in the third after Dal Maxvill led the inning off with a single. He scored later in the inning when Curt Flood came up with a two out single to make it 1-0 Redbirds. Gibby ran into trouble immediately thereafter. He surrendered a leadoff single to Ty Cline in the top of the fourth. Willie McCovey reached on an error by Maxvill before Gibson was able to record one out. The next two batters, Jesus Alou and Jack Hiatt came up with back-to-back singles that plated two, and, just like that, the score was 2-1 Giants.

            The Giants added a run in the sixth. Gibson gave up a single to Hart who stole second, then moved to third on a wild pitch. Gibson then retired two men in a row. He may have had visions of getting out of the inning unscathed, but Hal Lanier had other thoughts in mind. Lanier singled, Hart scored to make it 3-1, which proved to be the winning run.

            Bolin seemingly had the Cardinals on the ropes after his third inning hiccup. He had only allowed two hits heading into the eighth when they finally got to him. It was in that eighth inning that Red Schoendienst lifted Gibson for pinch hitter Johnny Edwards, who came up with a one out single. Shoendienst was not done pushing buttons. He sent Ron Davis to pinch run for Edwards, then watched Lou Brock hit a grounder to retire the lead man. Brock stole second, then scored when Flood knocked him in with a single. It was 3-2 and the Cardinals were knocking on the door.

            The Giants skipper then called on Fred Linzy to answer the door, or shut it I should say, as he was able to get Roger Maris to ground out. Shoendienst called on Ron Willis to take over pitching duties in the ninth. He worked his way out of a bases loaded jam to keep the Birds in it, but Linzy shut them down with a 1-2-3 ninth. As they say “You can’t win them all.” However, Lord knows that with Bob Gibson on the mound, there was always a chance. He would give it his all as he helped lead the way to the National League Pennant.

            As it turned out, Marichal would go onto claim his 25th win of the season in what proved to be a shootout 8-7 victory for the Giants in the second game. Linzy was able to get the save in that game as well. Not a good day for the Redbirds. With that said, they were counting down the wins until they won the pennant and had their sights set on October baseball. In the end it was just one of those days. Move on to the next one and get right back to work. In a lot of ways that’s what baseball is all about.  Win or lose, you gotta put it behind you and focus on the task at hand.

Sources included: The Southeast Missourian, The Pittsburgh Press, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, The Kentucky New Era, and

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Celebrate '68: 20 Wins For Gibson

            On September 2, 1968, it took Bob Gibson 10 innings to record his 20th win of the season. The victory was a 1-0 shutout over the Reds at Crosley Field in Cincinnati. Julian Javier played the offensive hero by belting a homer to lead off the Cardinals' half of the 10th. The monumental win was Gibson’s 12th shutout as well as his 24th complete game of the campaign. Once the game was in the books, Gibson’s ERA sat at an astounding 0.99.

            Gibson and the Cardinals had their hands full facing Gary Nolan. The Reds hurler held the Redbirds in check through nine. He had struck out eight and allowed just five hits along the way. Gibson had struck out seven through nine and allowed just two hits up to that point.

The momentum changer in the game happened after the ninth inning ended and Nolan had to be replaced by Ted Abernathy. Nolan had been bothered by a strain in his ankle and it began to bother him late in the game. Abernathy was a proven reliever that had led the National League in saves one season earlier. The first batter he faced in Javier was not known as a home run threat, but Julian got just enough of an Abernathy pitch to get it to fly over the wall in left just inside the foul pole. The big blast was his third home run of the season and his second game in a row with a longball.

Gibson had to walk to the mound in the bottom of the tenth happy to have the lead after the hard-fought battle. With that said, I am sure that Bob Gibson knew that battle was not over. He would have to retire three men to end it. He was able to get the first two in a row before the Reds looked to have a little life. Tommy Helms and Mack Jones picked up back-to-back singles, which brought Fred Whitfield to the plate to pinch hit for Abernathy. Whitfield had reached double digits in the home run department four seasons in a row from 1963 to 1966, so he was a legitimate power threat. His problem was that he had to face Bob Gibson, who was able to get him to hit a flyball to left to end it.

Gibson pitched into extra innings four times during that 1968 season. The club only lost one of those contests, which Gibson was pulled from after eleven innings. That contest went to the 13th before it was decided. The September 2nd contest was the only extra inning shutout of the season for the man who wore the 45 on his back, and it is safe to say it was a masterpiece.

Gibson’s final line was 10 innings pitched, four hits allowed, along with three walks. The fact that his ERA dipped below one in the month of September in what was his 29th start of the season is perhaps the most jaw-dropping stat of them all. He was the most dominant man in all of baseball. The dominance that led to the magic number 1.12 will never be forgotten.

Sources included:  The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, The Toledo Blade, The St. Joseph Gazette, and

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Celebrate '68: Gibson Shuts'em Down In Pittsburgh

                On August 28, 1968, Bob Gibson went to Forbes Field in Pittsburgh and led the way to victory over the Pirates who had just beaten him four days earlier. The victory was a blowout for the Cardinals, as they took down the Pirates 8-0 in front of 11,000 plus. The win was Gibson’s 11th shutout of the season, surpassing a franchise record of 10 shutouts, set by Mort Cooper in 1942. It was also Gibson's 19th win of the campaign, Gibson had lowered his ERA to 1.03 while striking out 14 men.

                Gibson had taken to the mound one day early because his book, Ghetto To Glory, was set to be released in New York City the following day. The short rest had no effect on Gibby. He went straight to work. Bob Veale got the start for the Bucs that day and was able to work through the first three innings unscathed. He was not so lucky in the fourth.

                Julian Javier and Curt Flood opened that inning with back-to-back singles. Moments later, Orlando Cepeda hit his 14th home run of the season and the Birds were up 3-0. The inning was far from over. Veale retired one man before allowing a single to Tim McCarver, unleashing a wild pitch that moved McCarver over, then walked Dal Maxvill. Bob Gibson stepped to the plate and helped his own cause by knocking a single into left that brought both McCarver and Maxvill around to score. Veale found himself in a 5-0 hole before striking out Lou Brock and retiring Javier on a ground out. The Cardinals had batted around.

                Cepeda walked in the fifth, moved to third on a single by Mike Shannon, then scored when McCarver hit into a fielder’s choice. That ended Veale’s day, and with the 5-0 cushion, one would imagine Gibson was feeling pretty damn good. Cepeda added to his RBI totals with a single that plated Javier in the fifth. Later, Javier added to his RBI totals with a home run in the eighth. It was 8-zip. The offense had come alive, and Bob Gibson did what Bob Gibson did; He shut his opponent down.

                Not one Pirates player reached second base that day. They could hardly get a ball in play. Gibson allowed just four hits, and half of those four were credited to Manny Mota. Matty Alou and Gary Kolb were lucky enough to scratch hits off of the nearly untouchable Bob Gibson. As mentioned before, he had struck out 14, future hall-of-famer Willie Stargell falling victim to Gibby twice.  Two hours and twenty minutes after the first pitch was thrown, Gibson was right where he belonged… back in the win column.

Sources included:, The Pittsburgh Press, The Southeast Missourian, The St. Joseph Gazette, and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Friday, August 24, 2018

Celebrate '68: Gibson Loses For the First Time Since Late May

                On August 24, 1968, falling 6-4 to the Pittsburgh Pirates at Busch, Bob Gibson took a loss for the first time since the 28th of May. Despite the loss, Gibson recorded his 22nd complete game of the season, and struck out a season high 15 men. Unfortunately for him and the Redbirds, a home run by Willie Stargell and two errors would lead to the loss. Only three of the six runs that the Pirates scored were charged to Gibson.

            The Cardinals jumped out to a 1-0 lead after they opened the bottom of the first with four consecutive singles, which plated Lou Brock. Pittsburgh’s starter Bob Moose had flown in from North Carolina the night before from a stint with the Marine Corps reserves. He arrived after midnight and had to take the ball for a 1:15pm start. As it turned out, that may not have been a good move by the Pirates management, as Moose lasted just three and two thirds.

Moose began the fourth by surrendering a double to Orlando Cepeda, who scored when Mike Shannon came through with a one out single. Shannon moved over to second on a two out single by Dal Maxvill and scored when Gibson punched a single into right. That spelled the end for Moose. He handed the ball off to Luke Walker, who did not retire a single man. Gibson stole second on him, and moments later, Lou Brock drew a walk. Pittsburgh’s manager went to his pen once again, calling on Tommie Sisk who threw a wild pitch, bringing Maxvill dashing home. The score was 4-0 Cardinals, and with Bob Gibson on the bump, it probably seemed like they were well on their way to victory. However, nine innings of baseball must be played, and on this day the lead would not stand.

Gibson was flying through the lineup. He walked the first man he faced and set down 15 men in a row. That string of men ended in the sixth when Jerry May singled to open the fifth. Gibson set the next three men he faced down as the single to May seemingly did not phase him.

Then came the seventh. The inning opened with a grounder towards Cepeda that the first baseman could not handle, which would prove to be a costly error. Roberto Clemente, who had already struck out three times, singled and moved Alou over to third. Moments later, Willie Stargell jumped on a Gibson pitch that got over Lou Brock’s head and sailed over the wall in left. Just like that, the score was 4-3, and there was a ballgame at Busch. Gibson did not mess around with the next three batters. In fact, he struck out all three of them.

The Buc’s tied things up in the eighth after Freddie Patek got on base with a one out walk. He was moved over to third when Maury Wills doubled, then scored on a sac fly by Matty Alou. That play was contested by the Cardinals, as the throw home by Roger Maris to Johnny Edwards looked like an out.  When the home plate umpire, Mell Steiner, threw up the safe call, players flew his direction. The call stood, though, and the game was knotted at four all. Gibson ended the eighth with a strikeout of Clemente, but the damage had been done.

Stargell opened up the ninth with a double. Gary Kolb came in to run for him, just before another error led the way to the loss. The error came when Donn Clendenon bounced a ball to short. It looked like Kolb was hung out to dry, but Maxvill’s throw to third ended up hitting Kolb on the helmet. Instead of an out, Kolb scored and Clendenon dashed to second. Gibson and the Redbirds were down 5-4. That score became 6-4 when Gene Ally singled in the final tally of the ballgame. Neither run was charged to Gibson, but the loss was.  After the Cardinals failed to rally in the bottom of the ninth, his record went to 18-6. His ERA rose from 1.00 to 1.07.

As mentioned before, the loss was his first since May 28th when the Giants came out on top with a score of 3-1. He had won 12 consecutive decisions from June 2nd to July 30th. The Cardinals lost when he started on August 4th, but fell in 13 innings, after he had pitched 11 of them. He rattled off three more wins in a row after that game, running his streak to 15 wins since the beginning of June; achieving an absolutely astounding feat.  The loss did not stop Bob Gibson. Four days later he would face the Pirates again, and the outcome would be a much better one for the man who was on the road to 1.12.

Sources included: Les Biederman of The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, The Toledo Blade, The Sarasota Herald, as well as

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Celebrate '68: Gibson Did It Again

            On August 19, 1968, “Bob Gibson did it again.”  He won his 18th game of the campaign, tossed his 21st complete game, and recorded his 10th shutout of the season. Gibson allowed just two hits during the 2-0 victory over the Phillies at Connie Mack Stadium in Philadelphia. The shutout matched a franchise record that had been set by Mort Cooper in 1942. The win was also Gibson’s 15th straight win. He had not been beaten since May 28th as he owned the mound in St. Louis and everywhere else the team traveled.

            Ron Davis played an unlikely hero for the Redbirds after Red Schoendienst penciled him into center. Davis had been acquired in mid-June and was giving Curt Flood a breather. He did not find himself in the starting lineup much.  However, he made the most of it on that day. His first RBI came in the second after Phillies starter Woodie Fryman walked Mike Shannon, who moved to second on the first of three hits by Tim McCarver, before Davis came through with an RBI single.

            Meanwhile, Gibson was mowing them down. He had ten strikeouts through seven innings before Davis struck again with an RBI in the eighth. John Boozer had taken over pitching duties for the Phils in the third and had been effective throughout the game, until Phil Gagliano tripled to lead off the eighth. Boozer set Orlando Cepeda and Shannon down in succession, then issued an intentional pass to McCarver just to pitch to Davis. The move backfired as Davis came through again with a single that scored Bobby Tolan who had pinch run for Gagliano.

            Gibson, who had allowed his first hit of the game in the sixth, went into the bottom of the eighth with just one hit allowed on his side of the scoreboard. That one hit was by none other than the pitcher, Boozer. With that said, he did surrender his second hit during that inning. He had walked a man before Johnny Callison singled, putting men at second and third with two outs. Gibson retired the next man, then went out in the top of the ninth and led things off with a single. Nothing came of the base knock, but quite frankly Gibson did not need any more run support. He opened the bottom of the ninth by getting Cookie Rojas to fly out. The next man up, John Briggs popped out, then Gibson recorded the last out of the ballgame by striking out Dick Allen. He had struck eleven men out on the day. Dick Allen owned four of those strikeouts while Gibson’s ex-teammate and friend Bill White owned three.

            Gibson’s ERA dropped to 1.00 after the shutout. His dominance was far from over, as he led the way to the National League Flag. St. Louis and the rest of the nation knew the name Bob Gibson and when it came up I am sure that heads were shook in disbelief when the words were said, “Bob Gibson did it again.”

Sources included: The Victoria Advocate, The St. Joseph Gazette, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, and

I would also like to add that something I truly enjoy is writing about a guy like Ron Davis. We will forever remember the names of Bob Gibson, Ozzie Smith, Jim Edmonds, David Freese, and many others who have shined during the regular season and postseason. However, the men who are unsung heroes are often forgotten. Those guys that are fourth outfielders, defensive replacements, pinch runners, or even a mop up guy that takes some lumps when his team is getting blown out. When a team wins a division, a pennant, or a championship, each and every man who contributes to the team is a piece of a puzzle that made it happen. All too often, so many of the unsung heroes are forgotten, but on days like today it is my pleasure to sing a little bit of praise on their behalf. Respect.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Celebrate '68: Gibson Halts The Cubs At Wrigley

            On August 14, 1968, Bob Gibson recorded his 17th win, and 20th complete game of the season, by beating the Cubs 3-1 at Wrigley Field in Chicago. The victory put an end to a string of seven straight victories over the Cardinals for the Cubs who had enjoyed crowds of more than 30,000 in each game of the three-game series. It was Gibson’s 14th straight victory. He had not been beaten since the 28th of May.

            Gibson went head-to-head with Joe Niekro that afternoon. The Cubs hurler looked like he was going to get through three innings with no score on the board, instead he watched his centerfielder Adolfo Phillips drop a fly ball that came off of Roger Maris’ bat. The error was costly. Maris scampered to second while Phillip recovered, and moments later he crossed the plate when Orlando Cepeda came through with a double.

            The Cards jumped ahead 2-0 in the fourth after Julian Javier came up big with a one out triple, then scored on a single by Dal Maxvill. That run would prove to be the game winner, as the Cubs scored in the bottom of the inning on an RBI by Jim Hickman. Cepeda padded the lead by knocking another run in during the seventh, and from there it was all Bob Gibson.

            A few runners would reach base for the Cubs the rest of the way, however, they would not reach home plate. With that said, the fans in Chicago may have been on the edge of their seats in the bottom of the ninth. Ernie Banks opened the inning with a single. Gibson retired the next two men, but he surrendered another single to Hickman, which put a man on at first and third. Cubs Manager Leo Durocher called on Dick Nen to pinch hit for the pitcher. He was the last hope for the Cubs, and that hope was lost when Gibson struck him out looking.

            Gibson’s ERA sat at 1.04 at the beginning of the day and it remained at that mark after he surrendered the one run. The Cardinals skipper Red Shoendienst joked that Gibson must have slipped since he gave up a run. The legendary Ernie Banks who had managed to get a hit off Gibson said, “That Gibson is really something. He doesn’t fiddle with his hat, or rub his uniform, or nothing. He just takes the ball, dares you to step into the batter’s box, and then hums it right by you.” Those who faced Gibson that season would have to get used to that hum as he made his way to the legendary mark of 1.12.

Sources included: The Southeast Missourian, The Pittsburgh Press, The St. Joseph Gazette, The St. Petersburg Times, The Schenectady Gazette, The Victoria Advocate, and

 The artwork accompanying the article was done by G.T. Johnson. A print of this work can be purchased here: 

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Celebrate '68: Gibson Shuts Down The Braves

                On August 9, 1968, Bob Gibson recorded his ninth shutout and 19th complete game of the season, allowing just four hits during a 1-0 win over the Braves in Atlanta. Lou Brock scored the lone run in the contest on an RBI by Roger Maris. 

            A matchup of future Hall of Famers, Gibson would have to bring his best, as the Cardinals were set to face Phil Niekro. The knuckleballer went eight innings for the Braves and allowed eight hits along the way. The two hits that mattered most came in the third as Brock picked up a one out single, swiped second, then watched Curt Flood strike out, just before Maris singled him in with hit right. Brock came flying around to score and Gibson had what he would need for the day.

            Only one runner would even get to second against Gibson.  It came in the bottom of the third after shortstop Marty Martinez singled and was moved over to second on a sac bunt by Niekro. Moments later, Gibby retired Felipe Alou, then trotted to the dugout.

            A crowd of 41,267 packed into the stadium in Atlanta that night. They witnessed greatness, as Gibson sailed into the ninth, then into the win column, after Joe Torre flied out to right. The victory was Gibson’s 16th of the season. His ERA dropped from 1.08 to 1.04.

The writers of the day credited him with his 13th consecutive victory. However, he had not gotten a win, nor did he figure into the decision during his last time out. They also credited him with breaking the Cardinals franchise record for shutouts with 34. He had actually broken the record set by Bill Doak when he reached his 31st shutout as a Cardinal. Doak’s mark of 34 was for his entire career and four of those were recorded when he was a member of the Brooklyn Robins. Regardless of those facts, Bob Gibson was rolling. Batters would fear the man who wore the Birds on the Bat on front and the 45 on his back. He was on fire and the blaze would continue to roar.

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Celebrate '68: Gibby's WInning Streak Is Snapped

                On August 4, 1968, despite pitching 11 innings for the club, Bob Gibson’s 12 consecutive games with a win came to an end after the Cardinals fell to the Cubs 6-5 in 13 innings at Busch Stadium. Gibson was charged with four earned runs, which caused his ERA to balloon to 1.08.  While Gibson and the Cardinals walked away disappointed there would be nothing that would stop the club from taking the National League Flag in the months to come. Following the game, the statue that we all know and love of Stan Musial was unveiled outside of the stadium.

                More than 47,000 packed the house in St. Louis, as Gibson faced off against Fergie Jenkins for the third time that season. Jenkins won the first time, Gibson won the second, but neither would add a W to the back of their baseball card on this day. In fact, Jenkins would only go four innings for the Baby Bears. He watched three runs cross the plate in the third when Curt Flood singled, Roger Maris reached on error, before Tim McCarver, Mike Shannon, and Julian Javier singled in succession.

On most days a three-run lead would be all Gibson needed. Signs of trouble began to show in the fifth. The inning began with Gibson walking rightfielder Al Spangler. Cubs skipper Leo Durocher lifted Jenkins for pinch hitter Willie Smith who singled, which moved Spangler to third. Don Kessinger followed with an RBI single to put the Cubs on the board. Moments later, Mike Shannon committed his 14th error of the season, which put Glenn Beckert on and loaded the bases. Billy Williams grounded out to first, but quick thinking by Orlando Cepeda kept the Cubs from scoring, as he threw Smith out at the plate. The bases were still juiced though, and Ron Santo came through with another single that pushed another run in, making it a 3-2 ballgame. The bases were still loaded and there was only one out. It seemed that the Cubs were poised to at least tie it or take the lead, but Ernie Banks grounded into a double play and just like that the Cards escaped the inning with the lead intact.
That lead remained intact until the seventh. Williams, who had grounded out in a crucial situation earlier in the game belted a two-out solo shot to tie it up at 3-3. Gibson kept himself together and retired the next man to end the inning. He worked a scoreless top of the eighth, then watched the Cardinals regain the lead in the bottom of the inning when Javier came up big with a two-out single off reliever Rich Nye. Gibson came into the ninth needing just three outs to get his 13th win in a row. Unfortunately, Al Spangler led off with a solo shot to tie it, which meant there would be extra innings at Busch.

Gibson worked his way into the 11th. One would imagine his arm was ready to fall off at that point, but he was still battling. He allowed a single to Randy Hundley to lead the inning off, retired a man, then issued an intentional pass to Spangler. Durocher sent John Upham to the plate to pinch hit, but the move failed as the pinch hitter struck out. It was Gibson’s 10th K on the day. The next man up was Don Kessinger. He had come up big in the fifth and he would do it again in the 11th with a single that scored Hundley and gave the Cubs a 5-4 edge.

While the Cards were down they were not out of this one just yet.  Bill Stoneman came in to pitch for the Cubs in the bottom of the 11th and things did not go well for the righty. Johnny Edwards opened the inning with a single. Bob Gibson was the next man up, but his day ended when Red Schoendienst called on Phil Gagliano to pinch hit for the pitcher. The skipper also called on Ron Davis to run for Edwards, as he tried to do all he could to help push another run across.  Gagliano moved Davis over to third with a sac bunt, before Lou Brock singled to left, tying the game up at 5-5. Stoneman could not get out of the inning. He threw a wild pitch that led to Brock moving up 90 feet and led to a trip to the showers for Stoneman. Eventual game winner Jack Lamabe took over and put out the fire.

Joe Hoerner took over pitching duties for the Birds in the 12th and he worked a 1-2-3 inning, only to be matched by Lamabe in the bottom of the inning. Hoerner did not have the same luck in the 13th. He allowed a single to Hundley to open the inning, retired the next man on a ground out that moved the runner to second, then pick up the second out of the inning by striking out Spangler. With two outs on the board, Hoerner was nearly out of it unscathed. However, Durocher lifted Lamabe for pinch hitter Lee Elia who came through with the biggest hit of the day, a single that scored Hundley. Elia had just one hit in 14 at bats on the season, and when he knocked the single through he picked up his first ribbie of the campaign. The score was 6-5, and there would be no more magic left in the Cardinals' bats. Three hours and twenty-seven minutes after the first pitch was thrown Joe Niekro was able to get a fly ball out off the bat of Curt Flood to end the ballgame.

While the loss was disappointing, the magical season for Gibson was far from over. He would bounce back as would the Cardinals. As they say, “You can’t win them all,” and this one just wasn’t meant to be. With that said, Gibson did record ten strikeouts and gave his club a chance to win with the 11-inning performance. His magical season was far from over as he put the outing behind him in a haste and went right back to work the next time out. Stay tuned.

 Sources included: The St. Joseph Gazette, The Kentucky New Era, The St. Petersburg Times, The Schenectady Gazette, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, and

 Note: Gibson did not figure into the decision in this one, so technically his consecutive game winning streak did not come to an end. Joe Hoerner took the loss. With that said, I look at it differently, because he did pitch the game, and did not get the win. You will notice in the next entry that the newspapers stories reported it was his 13th consecutive win. 

Monday, July 30, 2018

Celebrate '68: The Winning Streak Runs To Twelve In A Row

            On July 30, 1968, Bob Gibson won his 12th straight game and recorded his 18th complete game of the season with a 7-1 win over the Mets, at Shea Stadium in New York. The victory was highlighted by a five run fifth inning by the Cardinals. The one run allowed was just the third run allowed by Gibson in 101 innings.

Coming into the day Gibson’s ERA sat at 0.96 and with the one run allowed it remained at that impressive mark. It seems that everything that Gibson did that season was impressive. I am sure the men on the Cardinals roster were happy it was their opponents that had to face him. Bob Gibson was the kind of player that one would lose a little sleep at night knowing that he would be toeing the rubber against them the next day.

             Dick Selma got the call to pitch against Gibson in The Big Apple. He ran into trouble in the third when Maxvill tripled to lead off the inning. Curt Flood knocked in the shortstop on a groundout just a few minutes later to give the Cardinals a 1-0 early lead. Gibson rolled through the bottom of the third before the Cardinals offense exploded with the five run fifth.

            The big inning began with the first five players reaching base before an out was recorded. Orlando Cepeda singled, Tim McCarver walked, Mike Shannon reached on an error, Javier singled in two runs, Maxvill singled in another, before Selma finally got an out when Bob Gibson flied out. That said, even Gibson’s out hurt the New York starter as it came in the form of a sac fly, which was followed by a groundout by Lou Brock that brought in Maxvill to score what proved to be the sixth run of the ballgame for the rockin’ Redbirds. Two of the five runs were not charged to Selma; however, the big inning spelled the end for the pitcher on that day.

            The Mets did put a run on the board in the fourth after Ed Charles singled with two outs, then scored when Ed Kranepool followed him with a double. The run ended a streak of 23 scoreless innings thrown by Gibson, He would put that run behind him quickly and go right back to work retiring Larry Stahl to end the frame.

            Bill Connors took over pitching duties for the Mets. He had clean innings in the fifth and sixth but ran into two-out trouble in the seventh. He allowed a double to Flood, surrendered a walk to Roger Maris, then Orlando Cepeda knocked in Flood with a single. The score was 7-1 and Gibson simply did his job the rest of the way.

            The Cardinals hurler ran into a little trouble, allowing two runners in the eighth, but got out of that, then set Art Shamsky, Jerry Grote, and Jerry Buchek down in order in the ninth to end it. Once again, the day belonged to Gibson. He trotted off the mound having moved his record to 15-5. Gibson’s final line was nine innings pitched, five hits allowed, eight strikeouts, and one earned run surrendered. He was the most dominant man in all of baseball.

Sources include:, The Schenectady Gazette, The St. Joseph Gazette, and The Toledo Blade    

I dedicate this entry to the memory of my dog and best friend Hoss. He watched tons of ballgames with me and brought great joy to my life. 
I will always carry him in my heart. 

Hoss Forrester

Always my Bubba 

Rest in Peace my friend. 

2010 ~ 2018