The January project for the United Cardinal Bloggers asked the group to pick one game they would hop in a time machine to go watch. That could be a game that you attended as a kid or a game you weren’t alive to see. I’ve been asked this question before and the answer hasn’t changed over the years. I have seen some amazing games. I saw the 2004 Jim Edmonds One Man Show against the Astros in the playoffs. I saw Jose Jimenez throw a one hitter against Randy Johnson and Arizona shortly after throwing a no hitter against the Diamondbacks a short time before. I saw Edgar Renteria lead a legendary comeback in a regular season game against the Cubs with a walkoff home run. I saw every single one of Mark McGwire‘s memorable home runs. I saw Darryl Kile‘s last start before his untimely death. I saw most of these from the manual scoreboard. If I had to pick one game to revisit that I missed or didn’t have a chance to see, it would be Bob Gibson‘s 17 strikeout gem from 1968.
October 2nd. 1968. Game one of the World Series against the Detroit Tigers. In a series the Cards would ultimately lose, Bob Gibson pitched one of the greatest games of all time. Gibby has always been one of my favorite all time Cardinals, and that comes from a guy who never saw him pitch live. I’ve only seen clips of his ferocious windup and follow through on the mound. The way he looked like an angry mountain lion when he sprung his body towards the plate. Gibson was angry and made Jason Motte‘s mound quirks look like Mr. Rogers putting his shoes on after a show. I’ll never forget Tim McCarver remembering a mound visit with Gibson where the pitcher stated plainly, “The only thing you know about pitching is how hard it is to hit.” If there is one guy I want to go back in time to watch, it is Gibson. With no offense to Stan Musial or other greats, there is nothing as sweet or memorable as seeing a pitcher thwart an entire team for 9 innings. The Tigers could have used two bats at the plate and still missed Gibson’s offerings. That day in October, at the old Busch, the baseball looked like a golf ball to Detroit.
Bob Gibson faced 32 batters, scattered 5 hits and walked one in addition to those 17 strikeouts. In Game 4, he came back and threw another complete game, striking out 10 and walking 2 while giving up a run(solo home run) on 5 hits. The Cardinals scored 10 runs in Game 4 for Gibson, but saved barely any for the legendary righthander in Game 7. Gibson threw another complete game while striking out 8 and walking only 1. However, he allowed 4 runs on 8 hits, all after the 6th inning. A ball that got over Curt Flood‘s head in center field opened the scoring but Gibson wasn’t as sharp.
Overall, Gibson pitched 27 innings, struck out 35 batters, walked 4, with 5 runs allowed and 18 hits. When was the last time a starter pitched three complete games in a series? Gibson did so in the 1967 World Series and the 1968 World Series. Mickey Lolich and Gibson each threw three complete games in the 1968 World Series. That will never be done again. Gibson’s 17 strikeouts in Game 1 stand as the record for a single game in the World Series. Gibson was the main reason the mound was lowered by 5 inches before the 1969 season. He just made it look too easy. Gibson also won the MVP award in the National League in 1968, a feat that didn’t happen until this past season when Clayton Kershaw won. One day, Clayton will be able to pitch like Gibby in the playoffs.
There will never be another Bob Gibson. His ruthless mound composure is immortal among the greats and the current fleet of pitchers. He’d throw at a star slugger’s head if he took the mound in April. He is a true legend and if I had to go back and catch a game, it would be Game 1 of the 1968 World Series, where Gibson stole a record from Sandy Koufax and forced the league to reexamine how tall a pitching mound is. As the Joker would say, “He changed things”. I wouldn’t want to come back after Game 1, as you can see by my lengthy breakdown of that series.
Which game would you go back and watch? Spill it in the comments section below.
Thanks for reading and goodnight,