Oct 3, 2020

They Had To Change The Rules To Give The Batters A Chance

Bob Gibson
This has been a rough year for legendary pitchers.  Last night, the great Bob Gibson passed away from pancreatic cancer.  He was 84 years old.

Gibson retired after the 1975 season and was inducted into the Hall Of Fame in 1981, so most of what I know of his career are stories my dad told me and things that I learned from books and video highlight reels.  He was a 9 time All-Star, and 2 time NL Cy Young Award winner.  His St. Louis Cardinals won the World Series in 1964 and 1967, and he was named the World Series MVP each time.

His 1968 season is regarded by many as the most dominant season of any pitcher in the modern era.  He won the 1968 NL MVP and NL Cy Young Award with a record of 22-9, 268 strikeouts and an absolutely insane 1.12 ERA, which is by far the lowest of the live-ball era.  He was also dominant in the 1968 World Series, particularly in the first game in which he struck out 17.  Although other pitchers had impressive seasons in 1968, none could compare to Bob Gibson.  This resulted in significant rule changes that began in 1969, including a reduced strike zone and a reduction in the height of the pitchers mound from 15 to 10 inches.  The "Gibson Rules", as they were known, were meant to help the batters.  Gibson responded to these new rules in 1969 with yet another dominant season, going 20–13 with a 2.18 ERA, 4 shutouts and 28 complete games.

The game had never seen a pitcher like Bob Gibson before, and we haven't seen one since.