Omaha’s Black Stars – Bob Gibson
February 2, 2023 – International League (IL) – Omaha Storm Chasers press release
Bob Gibson’s career alone is not only one of the greatest for an Omaha or Nebraska native, but arguably one of the greatest in professional baseball history. A two-time Cy Young Award winner, 1968 NL MVP, nine-time All-Star, nine-time Gold Glover, two-time World Series Champion, and World Series MVP, Gibson was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1981.
Gibson is one of six members of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, born in Nebraska along with Grover Cleveland Alexander, Richie Ashburn, Wade Boggs, Sam Crawford and Billy Southworth. He’s one of two Omaha natives (along with Boggs), but arguably has the deepest bond with the city of any professional athlete.
Born on November 9, 1935, in Omaha to Pack and Victoria Gibson, Bob grew up playing basketball and baseball at his local YMCA. He then played basketball at Omaha Technical High School and excelled in both sports for the Bluejays at Creighton University. After graduating from Creighton in the spring of 1957, Gibson signed a contract with the St. Louis Cardinals. While briefly playing for the Harlem Globetrotters, Gibson soon shifted his entire focus to baseball.
From 1900 to 1936, Omaha was home to a few minor league teams, many of whom played in the Class A Western League. The rise of World War II brought baseball to a halt in the city, but the Western League was reformed in 1947 and baseball returned to Omaha in the form of the Omaha Cardinals. In 1955, the St. Louis affiliate transitioned to the Triple-A American Association and the club was soon graced with the presence of an Omahan named Bob Gibson.
Gibson played professionally in Omaha for the Omaha Cardinals at Omaha Municipal Stadium (later known as Rosenblatt Stadium) from 1957 to 1959. The right-hander played 47 games (33 starts) for the Cardinals with 170 strikeouts in 264.0 innings over portions of three seasons, eventually breaking into the major leagues with St. Louis in 1959.
The then 23-year-old cracked the opening-day roster for St. Louis in 1959 and made his major league debut with 2.0 innings of relief on April 15 at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum against the Dodgers.
Gibson’s 1968 season is widely regarded as one of the greatest pitching seasons in baseball history. He recorded a 1.12 ERA across 34 starts, with 268 strikeouts in 304.2 innings and a 22-9 record with 13 shutouts. On August 14, 1971, Gibson beat the eventual World Series champion Pittsburgh Pirates by 10 strikeouts in an 11–0 Cardinals win at Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh.
After retiring from playing baseball at the end of the 1975 season, Gibson returned to live in his hometown of Omaha. In 2013, the Storm Chasers commemorated Gibson’s career with a statue outside Werner Park, while the street on the north side of Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, adjacent to the site of the former Rosenblatt Stadium, is named Bob Gibson Boulevard.
Gibson’s jersey number 45 was retired by the St. Louis Cardinals in September 1975, then he was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1981, receiving 84.0% of the vote on his first ballot. In 1999, Gibson was selected as one of nine pitchers selected for the Major League Baseball All-Century Team. Busch Stadium in St. Louis also features a bronze statue of Gibson in front of the stadium, and he was an inductee of the St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame Museum in 2014.
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