On Oct. 2, 1968, Cardinals ace Bob Gibson stood on the mound at Busch Stadium in St. Louis for Game 1 of the World Series. The 6-foot-2 Gibson glared toward the plate, his jaw dripping with sweat, his cap pulled low over his face. Batters stood in against Gibson with trepidation, facing an arsenal that included a sharp curve, a devastating slider and a high-90s fastball that often came in high and tight.
All of baseball had been waiting to see this day’s pitching matchup: the nearly unhittable Gibson vs. 31-game winner Denny McLain of the Detroit Tigers. A record crowd of nearly 55,000 fans came to see what promised to be a pitcher’s duel for the ages.
For Gibson, the Series was the culmination of a historic season in which he won 22 games, struck out 268 batters, collected 13 shutouts and posted an ERA of 1.12, a number so low it hasn’t been equaled since. Even in the so-called “year of the pitcher” — the season that hurlers allowed a stingy 6.84 runs per game, the lowest since the “dead ball era” — Gibson’s season was otherworldly.
Photo: Bob Gibson pitches to Norm Cash in the 9th inning of Game 1 of the 1968 World Series. Associated Press photo. More info