Monday, June 22, 2015

Thrown bat cost Gibson 20-win season

Uncommon commons: In more than 30 years in sportscards publishing I have thrown hundreds of notes into files about the players – usually non-star players – who made up the majority of the baseball and football cards I collected as a kid. Today, I keep adding to those files as I peruse microfilms of The Sporting News from the 1880s through the 1960s. I found these tidbits brought some life to the player pictures on those cards. I figure that if I enjoyed them, you might too. 

A bat thrown in retaliation after he'd been plunked cost Bob Gibson his first opportunity to win 20 games in a season.

In the May 4, 1964, game in St. Louis, Gibby was cruising with a 5-1 lead when he came to the plate in the bottom of the 4th against the Phillies. 

Jack Baldschun had come on in relief and Gibson was the second batter to face him, McCarver having grounded out to open the inning. 

Baldschun hit Gibson with a pitch and the fiery Cardinals pitcher threw his bat at Baldschun -- who caught it!

Gibson was ejected despite his plea that the bat had slipped out his hands. He told the umpire he wasn't foolish enough to pass up such an easy chance for a victory, but he was tossed anyway. 

Not having pitched the requisite 4-1/2 innings, Gibson was ineligible for the eventual 9-2 win (it went to Roger Craig). 

Gibson's mound record was 2-0 at the time. He went on to win 17 more games in the regular season, finishing with a 19-12 mark. From 1965-70, Gibson had 20 or more wins five times.

Actually, Gibson won 22 games in 1964. He had two World Series victories over the Yankees, including the Game 7 clincher. Named the Series MVP, Gibson won a 1965 Corvette.

I'm sure if a guy scoured contemporary newspaper accounts of the game, or of the Cardinals-Phillies recent past, he'd have a good chance to find a reason that Baldschun hit Gibson. But there's always the possibility that the pitch was one of those that just got away.

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