Ron Jacober mourns the loss of the great Bob Gibson.
Lou Brock, Greg Marecek, Larry Wilson and now Bob Gibson. What a terrible month! What a terrible year!
In the mind of this Cardinals fan since I was old enough to tune a radio, Stan Musial and Bob Gibson were two athletes that I loved watching them play and loved being around them.
Gibson’s career was staggering, he was so good. But he had to be tough after the many challenges he had growing up.
In the 1968 season, Gibson had a season for the ages. I’m here to testify that in many ways it will never be equaled. His record earned run average of 1.12 still stands. But to me, even more impressive was the season that included 28 complete games and an incredible 13 shutouts. I’m guessing there were not 28 complete games in the majors this season.
I got to know Gibby fairly well. After he retired, he joined me for the Cardinals post game show on KMOX after many games. Our off the air conversations during commercial breaks were memorable. We talked about life, about race and about our childhoods.
But my most interesting “meeting” with Gibby happened at the beginning of his last season. A season that produced only 3 wins. Early in that last season, he got off to a tough start and I made a passing comment about it one night during a sportscast on Channel 5. Gibson did not see it but he heard about it. The next day I walked into the clubhouse well before the scheduled game that night to do an interview. Gibson saw me when I entered the sacred clubhouse doors and yelled at me saying, “there’s the ripper with a short memory” and some additional comments. Joe Torre was still with the Cardinals and said to me,”I think he wants to talk to you”! So, I headed for his locker. I have no idea why I ever said this…or had the guts to say it. But, I said “you are right Bob, I can’t remember the last time you won a game”. Why would I do that? I don’t know. So, I got the famous Gibson stare just like Henry Aaron would see when Gibson got two strikes on him after Aaron homerd the last time up. The stare. It lasted about 10 seconds and he started to laugh and said something like “I can’t remember that last time I won either”. We shook hands and laughed.
After that “meeting” I got along great with Gibby. At a baseball writers dinner a few years ago, he walked into a room for all the head table people, saw me and walked over and gave me a big hug saying, “nice to see another old fart”.
This old fart is sad today that Gibson and his other heroes are gone. It’s been a terrible month! A miserable year! I just have to cling to the wonderful memories.