Cardinals great Gibson dies of cancer at 84

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MLB: Baseball Hall of Fame-Parade of Legends

Bob Gibson, a Baseball Hall of Famer and St. Louis Cardinals legend who was one of the game's most successful and most feared pitchers, died Friday at age 84.

He died in his hometown of Omaha, Neb., after a year-long battle with pancreatic cancer, according to multiple media reports.

Gibson played his entire major league career with the Cardinals, from 1959-75, leading the club to World Series championships in 1964 and 1967 and grabbing World Series MVP honors each time.

Current Cardinals manager Mike Shildt was informed of Gibson's death Friday night after the club was eliminated from the playoffs by the San Diego Padres.

"Well, when it rains it pours," Shildt said. "He stood up for himself, stood up for his teammates. ... He was a winner. ... We're going to miss him."

Gibson was a nine-time All-Star, the National League Cy Young Award winner in 1968 and 1970, the NL MVP in 1968 and a nine-time Gold Glove honoree.

Gibson's 1.12 ERA in 1968 is a modern-era record that still stands, and he finished 22-9 with 13 shutouts and a league-leading 268 strikeouts that year. His dominant performance helped convince Major League Baseball to lower the height of the pitcher's mound the following season.

In his second Cy Young season two years later, Gibson led the NL in wins while going 23-7 with a 3.12 ERA

Gibson finished with a 251-174 record and a 2.91 ERA in 528 career appearances (482 starts). He struck out 3,117 batters, still 14th on the all-time list and walked 1,336 in 3,884 1/3 innings.

In the spotlight of the World Series, Gibson was almost always at his best, finishing 7-2 with a 1.89 ERA in nine starts. He earned two wins as the Cardinals edged the New York Yankees in seven games in 1964, then went 3-0 with a 1.00 ERA in a seven-game triumph over the Boston Red Sox in 1967. In the latter series, he threw complete games in Games 1, 4 and 7.

Current Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina said tearfully Friday, "The game is a game. You can lose a game, but when you lose a guy like Bob Gibson ... it's hard. ...

"When he talked, you listened. It was good to have him around."

Gibson also became legendary for his willingness to throw near or at opposing batters to keep them off home plate.

Fellow Hall of Famer Jim Palmer tweeted Friday, "Dave Johnson would sometimes run in from 2nd base and say give them the Bob Gibson! I'd say, there is only 1 Bob Gibson. Wasn't that the truth. Talented, competitive ,a warrior on the hill! So glad I got to know him. Will dearly miss him"

Cardinals starting pitcher Jack Flaherty, the tough-luck loser Friday, had been mentored by Gibson in recent years.

"He's a legend, first and foremost, and somebody who I was lucky enough to develop a relationship with and I was lucky enough to learn from, and you don't get that from people like that very often," Flaherty said. "You don't get the opportunity to learn from somebody of that caliber and somebody who was that good very often. ... I'm incredibly thankful to have had a relationship with him and to have learned what I learned from him. ...

"The last message I got from him was, 'Be a man. Be you.' Pretty simple. So, you know, you take that to heart."

Gibson was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame the first time he appeared on the ballot, in 1981, receiving 84 percent of the votes.

At the end of his Hall of Fame induction speech, Gibson said, "I want to be remembered as a person, a competitor, that gave 100 percent every time I went out on the field. Sometimes I wasn't too good, but nobody could accuse me of cheating them out of what they paid to see."

--Field Level Media