Bob Gibson has one true rookie card. We’ll be looking at his second-year card as well. But first, let’s look at the life and career of the Hoot.
Bob Gibson’s First Love
Gibson was raised by his oldest brother Josh who organized baseball and basketball games at the local Recreation Center, he eventually mentored his younger brother in both sports.
Bob was a fantastic baseball player as a young man, he was used as a utility man and was superb in any position you placed him in. But his heart loved basketball.
He pursued basketball first and foremost but at the college level, the doors were closed to him. He was given an offer by the Harlem Globetrotters and Gibson was pleased to accept it but was quickly discouraged by all the traveling and multiple games played.
Prior to his basketball pursuits, Gibson was pursued by the St. Louis Cardinals. He began to ponder that offer and decided to sign with the Cardinals because they offered the biggest financial perk.
Bob Gibson – An Intimidating Force
Bob Costas memorialized Gibson and stated how intimidated he was when he first met him, “to the point of shivering,” says Costas. But he was shocked at how soft-spoken, kind, and how he did not hoard over you as Costas expected.
On the mound, Bob Gibson was an intimidating force, mean, angry, and it gave him an edge against opposing teams as they timidly stepped into the batter’s box.
He was considered as a true warrior. When it was his turn to pitch, as he entered the stadium, and even the locker room, he wouldn’t talk to anyone.
It was an act of war, and the batters were the enemy, as he stepped on the mound the look of anger on his face gave him the ultimate intimidation factor.
He played the game with a chip on his shoulder. “If you stood to close to the plate he knocked you on your ass,” said Pete Rose.
He didn’t just intimidate, he also dominated opponents by working quickly, and relied on the pinpoint accuracy of his slider. Add to that two different types of fastballs.
Putting it all together was his violent release as he propelled himself to the first base side.
The Intensity of Bob Gibson
On July 15, 1967, Gibson took a line drive off of his right leg. He dropped to the ground in agony. After medical attention, he refused to leave the game!
With obvious pain written all over his face, he got the next three batters out and immediately dropped to the ground again. X-rays later showed his leg was broken.
This type of intensity was at the heart of Bob Gibson’s competitiveness. This makes you scratch your head when comparing today’s pitchers that come out of the game for what appears to be the beginning stages of a blister.
His intense personality transferred over to the media. They viewed him as mean and rude. Gibson didn’t speak to certain members of the media.
Even his own teammates struggled as long time catcher Tim McCarver said, “If I went to the mound to talk to him he would tell me, “Get back behind the plate where you belong.”
Bottom line. He hated to lose. Some think that it reminded him of his upbringing in the ghettoes of Omaha. It showed itself as anger, but he learned how to channel that aggression onto the mound. He used it to fuel his fire.
Gibson’s Fight Against Social Injustice
By the late 1950s, there was state-sanctioned racism. A social hell was the environment in St. Louis. He resented the Cardinals for enforcing it.
Black ballplayers had to eat, travel, and room separately with subpar standards compared to their white teammates.
Most black ballplayers were afraid to say anything. Not Bob Gibson. In 1961, Bob along with two other black teammates Bill White, and Curt Flood began to demand change.
But a bigger fight ensued and that was against Cardinal Manager Solly Hemus. Gibson had flat out called him a racist. Solly claimed they just didn’t see eye to eye.
Gibson about had enough and contemplated quitting baseball until a coach encouraged him to stay. The following year Hemus was let go and Johnny Keane, Gibson’s minor league coach, was brought in as the new skipper.
The St. Louis Cardinals were the first to adopt integrated housing, barbecues, wives were getting together, and now a sense of community was forming and the Cardinals were ahead of their time because of it.
Bob Gibson A Big Game Pitcher
There are Hall of Famers and unofficially there are Blue Chip Hall of Famers. They are the inner circle type, but what separates them from the others? The difference is in how they performed at the highest level of play.
When it came to World Series play Bob Gibson was on a different playing field. He had a confident demeanor and his pitching performances were next level.
1968 was his best year. He went 22-9 and a 1.12 ERA with 13 shutouts and 268 strikeouts.
The Cardinals reached the World Series against the Detroit Tigers. It was Bob Gibson against 31 game-winner Denny McClain. NBC hosted the game on national television and Gibson did not disappoint.
Gibson pitched phenomenally. The power, intensity, and focus made you pity the Detroit batters. Bob Gibson struck out 17 batters that game-breaking Sandy Koufax record of 15 strikeouts in a World Series game.
Some have testified that it was Gibson’s entire life coming together for this moment.
In 9 World Series starts Gibson pitched 8 complete games while surrendering less than 2 runs per game, opponents only had a batting average of 1.43 against him. He’s considered as the greatest World Series pitcher there ever was.
Career Stats & Accomplishments
Career Summary: Wins 251 | Loses 174 | ERA .291 | Innings Pitched 3,884.1 | Strikeouts 3,117.
- 9x All-Star
- 9x Gold Glove
- 2x Cy Young (1968, 1970)
- 2x World Series Champion (1964, 1967)
- World Series MVP (1964, 1967)
- NL MVP (1968)
- Hall of Fame Induction (1981)
Bob Gibson passed away on October 2, 2020.
1959 Topps, #514 (RC)
The 1959 Topps baseball set is popular among collectors. There’s not much to dislike about this one. To date, it was Topps biggest set at 572 cards and they included many new subsets.
The key card in the set? Bob Gibson’s rookie card of course. I mean look at this thing. Does that look like the face of a mean, intimidating guy? How about his name typed in a lowercase font at a slight angle.
It also offers a facsimile autograph and a team logo that just pops. And who thought of putting the most intimidating figure in the game in a soft pink color background? Classic!
These are the reasons this card is such a favorite among collectors.
The card backs are beautiful as well. The first 506 cards in the set had the card backs printed in red and green ink. The rest of the set was printed in black and red ink as you see here.
The cartoon on the back tells us that Bob’s nickname is “Hoot,” which was influenced by Hollywood actor and Rodeo Champion Hoot Gibson.
1960 Topps, #73 (PRT)
A resurgent trend in the hobby today is second-year cards, especially when collectors get priced out of a player’s rookie card. So a more affordable option to Bob Gibson’s rookie card is this 1960 Topps.
Another set that is a collector favorite. It is a unique design and its main feature is that the set is design in the horizontal position. The card is sectioned off into three text boxes.
The photography gives us a portrait of Gibson and an action black and white photo. Perhaps what captures my attention most is his name, which has alternating colors on the letters.
The card back gives us everything a good card back should have: cartoon, player bio, statistics, and commentary.
Happy Collecting Collectors,
Learn. Collect. Enjoy.