Bob Gibson is pictured during baseball spring training in Florida.
Legendary pitcher Bob Gibson, a two time World Series MVP who was so good that baseball had to change it rules to counter his dominance, died after a lengthy battle with cancer, the St. Louis Cardinals said on their website on Friday. He was 84.
Gibson, who starred for the Cardinals from 1959 to 1975 and led them to two World Series championships, is the second Cards' Hall of Famer to die in the past month.
Former Cardinals fleet-footed base stealer Lou Brock died September 6 also after a long health struggle. Brock was 81.
Gibson is arguably the greatest pitcher the Cardinals have ever had, and considered one of the best in American baseball history.
He had been fighting pancreatic cancer for a year and died in hospice care in Omaha, Nebraska, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch newspaper reported.
Gibson's death came on the 52nd anniversary of one of his greatest games, a 17-strikeout performance in game one of the 1968 World Series.
He won a Cy Young award and MVP award the same year.
The nine-time all star Gibson was a rarity, playing his entire career in a Cardinals' uniform.
When he retired, Gibson finished with 251 wins, 3,117 strikeouts and a 2.91 ERA over 3,884 1/3 innings. In 1981, he was inducted into the Hall of Fame.
Early in life, Gibson battled rickets, pneumonia, asthma, hay fever and a heart problem. But he overcame each to realise his dream of pitching in the major leagues.
His father passed away before he was born, leaving his mother, Victoria, to raise seven kids on the wages of a laundry worker.
Gibson became an all-round high school athlete, starring in baseball, basketball and track and field. He attended Creighton University before touring and playing basketball with the Harlem Globetrotters for one year.
Gibson's dominance on the mound led to a dramatic change in the rules of American baseball. Following his 22-game winning season in 1968, organizers lowered the height of the pitching mound from 38 centimetres (15 inches) to 25cm.
With the lower mound in 1969, Gibson won 20 games — one of five 20-win seasons he would have.
The tributes poured in from around the baseball world for Gibson on Friday night.
“Thank you for all your wisdom. You are a legend,” said Jack Flaherty, who started for the Cardinals in Friday's 4-0 season-ending loss to the San Diego Padres.
“I just got the horrible news of the passing of my dear friend Bob Gibson. My thoughts and prayers are with Wendy and the Gibson Family. A huge loss for the entire @MLB and @Cardinals family. Will miss you Bob,” legendary Chicago Cubs pitcher Fergie Jenkins wrote on his Twitter account.
Flaherty's teammate Yadier Molina couldn't hold back the tears as he talked about what Gibson meant to him.
“The game is a game,” Molina said Friday night. “You can lose a game but when you lose a guy like Bob Gibson, it's just hard. I wish his family the best. We lost another one, Cardinal Nation lost another one.”
Robinson Chirinos said he was late on the fastball the whole game. He finally caught up to one when it counted most. Chirinos hit his first grand slam and finished with a career-high six RBIs, Gerrit Cole struck out 10
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