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Remembering Cardinals Pitching Legend Bob Gibson

Bob Gibson, 84, died Friday at his home in Omaha after battling pancreatic cancer.
Bill Greenblatt | UPI
Bob Gibson, 84, died Friday at his home in Omaha after battling pancreatic cancer.

St. Louis Cardinals fans and baseball lovers everywhere are mourning the loss of legendary pitcher Bob Gibson, who died Friday at the age of 84. Gibson is the second Cardinals great to pass away in the space of a month. Gibson’s longtime teammate Lou Brock, 81, died Sept. 6.

On Monday’s St. Louis on the Air, we revisited our 2015 conversation with Gibson, who at the time had just released his book “Pitch by Pitch: My View of One Unforgettable Game.”

Gibson was a two-time World Series champ, won an MVP award and was a nine-time All-Star. Inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1981, he ranks first among Cardinals pitchers in wins, games started, complete games, shutouts, innings pitched, strikeouts and ERA.

He spent all 17 years of his Major League Baseball career with the Cardinals. A few years after retiring, Gibson returned to the game as a coach for several teams.

And even after he retired from coaching, he remained a fixture in the baseball community. For a while, he would go to spring training in Florida every year as a sort of “celebrity coach” for the Cardinals.

“I would spend the entire time down there, not necessarily coaching, but being available just in case some of the guys want to ask me some questions, just to be there,” Gibson told St. Louis on the Air.

More recently, regularly attending spring training became less feasible for Gibson. But he remained a trusted mentor to younger Cardinals players.

Gibson played baseball in the fraught civil rights era and experienced discrimination in various realms throughout his life. During the on-air conversation in 2015, Gibson touched on the issue of police brutality. At the time, only a few months had passed since a Ferguson police officer shot and killed Michael Brown.

“I have yet to figure out how the police can get away with some of the stuff they do, and just saying it was in the line of duty,” Gibson said.

He recalled a time he was driving an RV in California.

“There was a cop just following us … and after about 10 minutes or so he pulled me over, and I got out and asked him what was wrong,” Gibson said. “And he said, ‘I noticed that you only have one license plate, and it’s on the back, it’s not on the front.’ And I said, ‘Well I’m from Nebraska, and it doesn't require two, just one.’ … And I thought, ‘Why is this guy stopping me? Why is he stopping me?’ And the only thing I could come up with was harassment. Period.”

St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is hosted by Sarah Fenske and produced by Alex Heuer, Emily Woodbury, Evie Hemphill and Lara Hamdan. The audio engineer is Aaron Doerr.

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Evie was a producer for "St. Louis on the Air" at St. Louis Public Radio.
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