Tag: Bob Gibson

Bob Gibson: Proud, Opinionated, Tactless and the Most Feared Pitcher of His Era

Joe Torre  has the reputation of being an individual who favors diplomacy over force. He is concerned about how he treats adversaries and how they react to him.

In the spring of 1995, Torre hired Bob Gibson as the St. Louis Cardinals‘ bullpen coach.

Torre and Gibson had been teammates with the Cardinals. When Torre managed the New York Mets, Gibson was his pitching coach. When Torre managed the Atlanta Braves, Gibson was his pitching coach.

Gibson had really been an “attitude” coach with the Mets and Braves. He certainly had what some referred to as an attitude.

Bob Gibson was the meanest, toughest and most fearsome pitcher of his era.

Torre loves to describe his friend. “Just say he’s proud, he’s opinionated, sometimes he doesn’t have a lot of tact. But above all, Bob Gibson loves baseball.”

Rick Mahler, the Cardinals’ minor-league pitching coordinator, had been a pitcher with the Atlanta Braves when Gibson was their pitching coach. Mahler hit the nail on the head, not only about Gibson but about most of today’s players.

“He had this attitude that I’m sure carried over from the 60s and 70s,” Mahler says. “Players back then played for a pure love of the game not that guys don’t today, but there’s so much money these days. Everyone respected Bob for his attitude.”

Then Mahler made the point that separates modern players from Gibson, Tom Seaver, Pete Rose, Mickey Mantle and others of their ilk.

“You know how some guys are, they go 4 for 4 in a game they lose, they’re still a little upbeat. But whenever they’d walk by Bob Gibson, they’d wipe that smile right off their face. You just didn’t want to make him mad.”

At the age of 58, Gibson seemed to have mellowed. He still hated to lose, but he could tolerate human failing more than in the past.

Speaking to the media after he was hired as the Cards’ bullpen coach, Gibson removed any doubt about what his attitude would be if he played in 1995.

“Look, if I was a ballplayer, I’d probably still be a (jerk), but on the whole, I’d have to say that I’ve mellowed. Age will do that to you,” he says.

“There are things from my past that used to anger me so much I couldn’t even talk about it. Now I can. I remember the days that I was forced to drink from a different water fountain (than white people).

“There was a time I wouldn’t have been allowed on Treasure Island (a wealthy neighborhood in St. Petersburg). Now I own a condo there. These are things you never forget. They’re with you forever, but age softens you.”

When he was on the mound, merely facing a hitter who had a successful at-bat against him would upset Gibson. He would be the same today, despite his 76 years.

When the new Cardinals management took over, general manager Walt Jocketty told Torre that he had free reign with respect to his choice of bullpen coach. Gibson, who had been out of baseball, understood the politics of the business world.

“I did learn that once a player retires, he has to learn how to lie, to play little social games in this world. Sometimes, that’s not easy for an athlete who was used to getting by on his own ability.”

The Cardinals were looking for a legend to help their image after finishing a dismal fourth in the newly-created Central Division.

Few could rival Gibson as a legend.


Source Citation

Klapisch, Bob. “Firing again.” The Sporting News 27 Feb. 1995: 23. General OneFile. Web. 19 Nov. 2011.

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Being There: An Ode to Baseball

You have dreamed of this moment before you bought your ticket. Indeed, it was the thought of buying the ticket that was the germinating seed of this dream. You have a smile on your face, because you know that you are about to witness a historical, traditional, rarified love…a baseball game. 

Maybe you are with your wife. Maybe you are with your kids. Maybe you are with a bunch of your rowdy friends and you can’t wait to get in the stands to be rowdy with the rest of your “friends” who all root for the same team. Maybe, like myself, you even go alone because once you get there, you are not alone. 

Whichever is the case, you’re ecstatic. The feeling of joy intensifies as you pass through the gate, handing off the ticket to your dreams. The collective hope and joy is all around in the buzz of the stadium and you can feel the immensity of it. 

Then it happens. You have checked your ticket for where you will be sitting then as the concrete walkways and walls give way you look through the first section that you come upon and there it is: The diamond.

Lush and green, with white lines, four bases and a fence that defines the game. It is as if you have walked into a temple. Depending on your perspective, if it is in line with mine, you have. 

We come and unconsciously worship the ghosts of legend. Conjuring up the spirit of those who have come before us and laid the groundwork for this amazing tradition. We do this because we understand that without Babe Ruth, there’s no Roger Maris nor Mark McGwire.

Likewise, we understand emphatically that without Josh Gibson there is no Jackie Robinson and that we would have surely missed out on the greatness of Willie and Hank. Furthermore, without the courageous spirit of Branch Rickey, we couldn’t enjoy it together, as one nation, indivisible with liberty and justice for all. 

When we are truly in the spirit of the legacy of love called baseball this unconscious worship of legend plants the seed in our collective consciousness that asks, who will be the next legend whose name will be inscribed on the consciousness of future generations? What amazing feat has yet to materialize in this game that will be enshrined in the hearts of those unborn? Will it happen today? While I’m here? 

Thus, you run, quickly—so as not to miss a thing—to buy your traditional beer, dog, Cracker Jack, maybe some fries, never minding the ridiculous cost because…it’s baseball.

Upon finding your section, row and seat you squeeze in with 40,000 other folks, the vast majority of which are of the “casual fan” variety. You pay them no mind, because you know that you are in the vast minority of men, women and children that actually “get it.” 

Yes, you are of the other variety of fans. You’re like the elder guy two rows ahead of you that listens to the game on his handheld radio, or like his wife sitting next to him who owns a book of scorecards and is currently going through passed games that she has kept score of. 

You are the fan that nobody understands. They ask, why do fans do such things like listen to the game on the radio, or keep score, or never leave their seat from the first pitch to the last and get annoyed when people want to talk at the most critical stage of the game? 

But imagine what it would have been like if you were able to be in the stadium behind home plate the day that Sandy Koufax pitched arguably the greatest perfect game in the history of baseball. Imagine what it would have been like to be at that game, with a scorecard, to record the moment so that you could frame it and pass it down through your family.

Even more, imagine if you could have been at the game and heard Vin Scully calling those last 6 strikeouts of Koufax’s legendary moment. Priceless.

It is the sound of the bat, the awaiting of the next pitch like the next breath in meditation, the “head game” of trying to out think the person that stands before you and strategizing ways to manipulate your opponent into losing. It is fans who all of a sudden become coaches and writers that live as trickster critics.

It is the long legacy that got us here and the beauty of people from around the world coming to the United States to play this game as this is the stage of the embodiment of the greatest game on earth.

It is “the catch,” “the shot heard around the world,” 100+ years of baseball futility for the Chicago Cubs and 27 championships for the Yankees. It is “Teddy Ballgame” and the legend of .406 and Satchel Paige pitching three innings of shutout baseball at the age of 59.

It is the legend of Josh Gibson hitting a game winning home run in Pittsburgh that landed in the glove of an opposing player the next day in Washington. It is another Gibson, Bob, who managed to average allowing a measly 1.12 earned runs per 9 innings in 1968. 

It is yet another Gibson, Kirk, fist pumping on two bad legs around second base after a game winning home run against Dennis Eckersley. 

It is Joe Carter’s World Series winning home run, the summer of ’98, Curt Schilling’s debated bloody sock and the Red Sox shocking the world to come back from a three game deficit to the Yankees only to sweep my beloved Cardinals in the World Series.

And, yes…it is the Yankees/Red Sox rivalry, as much as it is the Dodgers/Giants, Cubs/Cardinals and every team vs. the Yankees. 

It is myth, legend, lore, statistics, hall of fame credentials and potential, endless debates about the who’s, what’s and why’s and above all…it is about the game…and you wouldn’t want to miss any moment of it. 

Yes, you get it. You understand that as Dan Millman learned in The Way of the Peaceful Warrior that, “There are no ordinary moments” and that at any given moment…the extraordinary could happen. You realize that this may be the moment that you get to tell your friends and family of the experience of being there. 

After all, you know, baseball is love. Baseball is a reflection of life. Maybe you relate with the batter that digs his feet in knowing that best in the game only get a hit 3.5 times out of 10, and as he grips the bat with the intention of helping his team toward victory, he understands that it is him against nine guys and the odds of winning are slimmer than the odds of success. Do you feel like him sometimes? 

Maybe in this mirror of life you feel like the pitcher who stares down that very same batter knowing that he has an arsenal of weaponry to slim that guys chances of getting a hit even more. Beyond that, maybe as you relate with the pitcher, you realize that you have a supporting cast of family and friends who have “got your back”—literally. 

Baseball is beautiful, isn’t it? Here you are with thousands of other people that you don’t know from anywhere, that you may have passed on the street and didn’t recognize, and the common thread that is bringing you together at this moment in history is this amazing game played inside (and outside) the lines.  

Indeed, this beautiful sport has nearly everything that life offers; passion, intelligence, philosophy, athletic agility, camaraderie, love, compassion, magic, hatred (of the Red Sox, Yankees and their fans, ha!), hope, promise, integration, humility, entertainment and escape from the worldly politics into the politics of the game. Sure it misses in some areas, but even the perfect game isn’t “perfect” (Sandy threw a wild pitch that sent his hat flying in that last inning). 

So, you sit there, awaiting the first pitch, not thinking about the last, watching with the understanding that being there is an event all to itself.

Whether you are at the stadium or even at home watching it on TV or listening on the radio, as you focus your energies sharply, baseball’s truth springs into your awareness and you are quite metaphorically in the game. 

And that, my friends, is a beautiful place to be. That…is a dream materialized. 

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Martin Luther King Day: The MLB’s All-Time African American Lineup

In honor of Martin Luther King Day, and to honor African American players in the major leagues, I have compiled a nine player lineup of the greatest African American players in baseball history.

There were a number of tough decisions in naming the team, and the likes of Ken Griffey Jr, Joe Morgan, and Frank Thomas, among many others didn’t make the cut.

So here it is, the starting nine African American players in honor of Martin Luther King Day.

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Roy Halladay Grabs NL Cy Young Award: Power Ranking Top 15 Winners in NL History

Roy Halladay effectively killed whatever drama might have been attached to the announcement of the 2010 National League Cy Young Award winner.

It’s no secret that the Philadelphia Phillies’ ace ran away with the thing once Josh Johnson got shelved while Ubaldo Jimenez and Adam Wainwright blinked in the second half of the season.

The Florida Marlin didn’t miss too many games and neither the Colorado Rockie, nor the better of the two St. Louis Cardinal untouchables struggled badly or for very long, but Halladay simply gave the other horses no margin for error:


33 GS, 250.2 IP, 21-10, 2.44 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 7.9 K/9, 7.30 K/BB, .245/.271/.373


Further sweetening the pot were Doc’s league-leading nine complete games, league-leading four shutouts, the perfect game and the no-hitter in his playoff debut (though that one didn’t happen in time for the voting).

How’s that for your first year with a new club?

The second “Year of the Pitcher” gave us brilliance from those mentioned along with Tim Hudson, Roy Oswalt and Mat Latos, but none was as blinding as Roy Halladay.

However, as good as the burly right-hander’s campaign was, it still wasn’t quite dandy enough to crack this petrified nut. Without further ado, here are the top 15 NL Cy Youngs in the history of the award.


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Tim Lincecum and The 10 Greatest World Series-Clinching Pitching Gems

In his young career, Tim Lincecum of the San Francisco Giants has accomplished some pretty special things on a pitching mound. Already owning two Cy Young awards, he has now added a World Series title, in which he out-pitched Cliff Lee in the clinching game to earn the Giants their first title since moving out west from New York.

Lincecum and his merry band of outsiders, otherwise known as the 2010 San Francisco Giants, out-pitched, outhit, and outclassed the Texas Rangers in every facet of the game, earning themselves baseball’s most coveted prize, the title of World Series Champions.

Facing an offensive powerhouse, led by leading American League MVP candidate, Josh Hamilton, as well a pitching staff headed by modern postseason legend, Cliff Lee, the San Francisco Giants weren’t expected to have much of a chance against the Texas Rangers. Relishing the underdog nature of their title challenge, the Giants went to work, with several dominant pitching performances and a rotating cast of characters providing heroics each night.

The resulting five game World Series victory is the Giants’ first championship since 1954, and the lone title they have won since relocating to San Francisco prior to the 1958 season.

Led by their own pitching phenom, Tim Lincecum, the Giants proved that strong pitching is the key to baseball postseason success. Lincecum’s stellar effort, coming five days after an uneven Game 1 start, would be enough to stifle the powerful Rangers and claim the championship.

San Francisco’s unorthodox right-hander already authored a classic postseason start in his personal playoff debut during the NLDS, but his World Series clinching Game 5 performance will stand as one of the greatest clinching performances baseball has seen.

Let’s see where Lincecum’s gem ranks among the greatest World Series clinching, starting pitching performances of all time.

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Pressure Pitchers: The Top 50 Pitchers You Want Starting a Game 7

There may be nothing in professional sports that quite measures up to starting the final game of a seven-game playoff series in Major League Baseball. It can either mean going home, moving on, or winning it all.

Before the advent of the expanded playoff system in 1969, only two teams were eligible in MLB, the pennant winners of the American and National Leagues. For 66 seasons this was the accepted format, and the Fall Classic brought us many great memories from that period of time.

When both leagues split into two divisions, the League Championship series was formed, and was a best-of-five format up until 1985, when it was increased to seven games to increase revenue and match the length of the World Series.

When the Division Series was introduced in 1995, five games were determined to be the length, and has remained so ever since. Even though we are looking at who we would consider to start a Game 7 of a series, we could certainly count Game 5 of division series as well, considering it’s a one-and-done proposition, and still determines whether a team marches onward or out.

So, the upcoming list is a ranking of the top 50 pitchers to start a Game 7, or deciding game of a playoff series.

The list does NOT reflect how a pitcher performed during the regular season, it only reflects their performance DURING the playoffs. Major difference here.

Performances in big games during the season might be important, but don’t reflect the type of pressure that pitchers are under when given the ball to get their team a championship.

And here we go…

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Albert Pujols: Tony La Russa Leave Albert Be, You Go Adore Glenn Beck !

According to a report on ESPN.com Tony La Russa announced that Albert Pujols will appear with him in a Glenn Beck event at the Lincoln Memorial where Rev. Martin Luther King made his famous civil rights speech.

Here is a quote from the great Tony La Russa:

“I made it clear when we were approached: I said, ‘If it’s political, I wouldn’t even approach Albert with it,’ ” La Russa said, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, of the “Restoring Honor” rally set for the Lincoln Memorial. “I don’t want to be there if it’s political.”

I said the great Tony La Russa, but after reading that quote the words naïve or not intellectually curious came to mind, but then again he may just be a real Glenn Beck zombie.

Nothing wrong with that, everybody has the right to their opinions.

Can we all agree on that?

Reasonable folks do understand that anything Glenn Beck does is political, a way of self promotion and lets not forget a plan to laugh his way all the way to the bank.

Oh! Just in case you want to know, the yearly income information varies from 18 to 35 million, either way that’s a lot of dough folks.

Good for him, I don’t like the guy, just my choice, but you got to admire his business plan; hate always sells and he is the master of it.

The great boxer Muhammad Ali said he could hit you with a jab before you could blink your eyes

Mr. Beck tops that in spades: he can throw a jab, a hook, kick you in your privates, and walk away with another million and a big smile.

Good for him, God bless him.

Albert Pujols should ask his manager to mind his own business and not get him involved in what could turn out to be an embarrassment for MLB. Some of the posters brought to those events are very offensive; look them up I won’t give them play here.

That alone should give Pujols a hint; staying home may be the prudent thing to do.


Sr. Pujols por favor no se deje usar come un instrumento politico por Toni LaRussa, usted sole le debe ser un buen jugador en el campo.

Nada mas!

Mr. Tony La Russa should go and enjoy his day off at the big Glenn Beck event and let Albert hang out with his buddies; that should make everybody happy.

As always, especially on this article, this is just a fan’s opinion and from what I understand everybody has one and I thank God for that.

Enough said.


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CC Sabathia and The Black Aces

Via Wikipedia:

The Black Aces is a book written by former Major League pitcher James “Mudcat” Grant about the only African American pitchers who have won at least 20 Major League Baseball games in a single season.

For some reason, I have always found the idea of the Black Aces to be very cool, and ever since the day the Yankees signed CC Sabathia, I have hoped that he would eventually become one.

After last night’s win, it looks like it might actually happen. Sabathia has 15 wins through 25 games, which means he’ll have about nine more starts to pick up five more wins to do it.

He would become the 14th pitcher on the list joining Vida Blue, Al Downing, Bob Gibson, Dwight Gooden, Mudcat Grant, Ferguson Jenkins, Sam Jones, Don Newcombe, Mike Norris, J.R. Richard, Dave Stewart, Earl Wilson, and Dontrelle Willis.

Interestingly enough, David Price of the Tampa Bay Rays also has 15 wins, so it is possible that the Black Aces may get two new members in 2010.


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Ubaldo Jimenez 2010 Vs. Bob Gibson 1968: Who’s Better Through June?

Ubaldo Jimenez has a great start to the 2010 campaign, where he has a 14-1 record to go along with a 1.83 ERA and 1.05 WHIP. It measures up against many of the great pitching starts to any individual season.

But how does it measure up against the start of one of the greatest pitching seasons of the modern era: The 22-9, 1.12 ERA, 0.853 WHIP, 258 ERA-plus of Bob Gibson’s 1968 campaign?

By the end of June, Gibson was a rather pedestrian 9-5, but his ERA was 1.14, and he already had lost games by scores of 1-0 and 2-0. The league ERA at the end of June was 2.93, so Gibson ERA-plus was around 257 after three months of work.

These figures are right in line with Gibson’s seasonal marks of 1.12 ERA and 258 ERA-plus. It speaks volumes on how Gibson was extremely consistent throughout that amazing season.

During that entire season, however, the Major Leagues had terrible hitters across the board. For example, only one American League batter, Carl Yastrzemski, hit over .300 (barely at .301), and very few batters in either league hit for power. Willie McCovey of the San Francisco Giants led the National League with 36 home runs and was the only NL player with over 100 RBI, racking up 105.

In 1968, the NL had a slash line of .243 BA/.300 OBP/.341 SLG/.641 OPS. Only one team, the Cincinnati Reds, had a team OPS over .700. The average runs scored per game that season in the NL was 3.43.

These were terrible offensive statistics.

The biggest factor was the size of the mound. In 1968, the mound was 15 inches high, but reduced to 10 inches beginning in 1969. But wasn’t the mound height 15 inches in the seasons prior to 1968?

Of course, they were 15 inches high since 1903 (sometimes higher), so why weren’t the ERAs well below 2.00, and near Gibson’s 1.12 ERA, in the preceding seasons?

Maybe the pitchers did not pitch as well. Pitchers do have different seasons all the time. Mechanical faults often lead to missing locations of pitches. This usually leads to more runs scored for the opposition.

But those great pitching seasons do come around from time to time,and the 1968 season was the post-war “Year of the Pitcher.” Of the 16 post-war (World War II) seasons which had sub-2.00 ERAs, Gibson, leading the way with the 1968 season, produced seven of them.

In the year of the pitcher, Hoot was by far the best.

By the end of June, Gibby had a .775 WHIP. In June alone, he had a 6-0 record, six complete games, a 0.50 ERA, and five consecutive shutouts. Does it matter that he was facing some anemic hitters. Why didn’t everyone in that era then perform like that?

Whereas Gibson was facing poor hitters, Jimenez is facing more potent lineups, with pretty much any hitter from 1-8 in the National League able to hit the ball over the fence at any time. 

During Jimenez’s great 2010 start, the Major Leagues are hitting at a slash rate of .259/.329/.405/734 OPS, much superior to the National League hitters of the 1968 season. Hitters today are much more advanced than their predecessors, with video clips, better ideas on hitting mechanics, a tighter strike zone, and that lower mound.

But despite the great 14-1 record thus far, Jimenez has a higher ERA than did Gibson through June at 1.83, and a higher WHIP at 1.053. His ERA-plus, which measures his performance against league average, is 246, lower than Gibson’s 257 through June.

Ubaldo’s ERA-plus has also significantly declined each of his last two starts: Two starts which have yielded a win and a no-decision, allowing 10 earned runs in 11.2 innings. His record in June is 4-0 with a 4.41 ERA and 1.439 WHIP.

Those last two numbers are far worse than league average of 4.11 ERA and 1.379 WHIP.

Gibson allowed more than three earned runs only twice in his 34 starts in 1968, one which was over 11 innings.

With his combination of complete games, five straight shutouts (48 straight scoreless innings) and extremely microscopic ERA of 1.14, Bob Gibson had the better three-month start to his 1968 season over Ubaldo Jimenez’s 2010 start.

And the best part is that Gibson kept up that pace through the season, while Jimenez has shown signs of mortality over his last couple starts.

Bob Gibson’s 1968 campaign was the best ever for a pitcher in the modern era, and we will likely be saying that for decades to come.

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The 10 Greatest St. Louis Cardinals of All Time

The St. Louis Cardinals are the most successful baseball franchise in National League history. Second only to the New York Yankees, the Cardinals have won 10 World Series titles.

The consistent presence of great athletes and coaches is hugely responsible for the club’s success. Each great Red Birds team has seen one or more Hall of Fame caliber players.

Breaking down the greats and creating a top 10 was no easy feat. With so many great players, the list is open for debate.

Let’s take a look at the 10 best players to ever wear a Cardinal uniform.

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