12:44 AM ET
In 2006, less than an hour after Tony La Russa had won his first World Series as the manager of the St. Louis Cardinals, he was greeted in the hallway at Busch Stadium by an iconic figure.
“Bob Gibson just shook my hand,” said La Russa, who had won a World Series with Oakland, and won nearly 2,500 games by that time, yet he was glowing, in awe of what had just happened. “I just got welcomed to the club by Bob Gibson.”
That’s the reverence paid to Bob Gibson, not just in St. Louis, but across major league baseball: Something, or someone, becomes official when endorsed by Bob Gibson. He was one of the greatest pitchers of all time, he was arguably the greatest athlete ever to pitch in the big leagues, and when it came to competing, no one was more ferocious than Gibson.
Gibson, who announced in July 2019 that he had pancreatic cancer, died Friday at age 84.
“I loved facing him because he wanted to win so much,” said Frank Robinson, a fellow Hall of Famer. “If I won the battle against him, I knew that I had