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Baseball Hall Of Famer Bob Gibson Dies At 84

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

On an early October day in 1968, baseball fans watched a St. Louis Cardinal, Bob Gibson, make history.

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

He was pitching against the Detroit Tigers in the first game of the World Series.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED SPORTSCASTER: Looking at a two-strike pitch. Strike three, they won't - boom. Knock him out swinging.

KELLY: By the end of the game, Gibson had struck out 17 batters. That's a record for a single pitcher in a World Series game.

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UNIDENTIFIED SPORTSCASTER: Once again, a standing ovation, a new World Series record.

CHANG: Gibson died on Friday, 52 years to the day after that game. He was humble about the record, as he told NPR's David Greene in 2015.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED NPR BROADCAST)

BOB GIBSON: Getting a hitter out is the ultimate goal. Strikeouts is icing on the cake, I guess.

KELLY: That record is only one part of what made Gibson a Hall of Famer. During the same year, he had the lowest earned run average in modern baseball history - 1.12 for the baseball fans.

CHANG: He also was known for being an extremely intimidating pitcher. This is a man who broke his leg on the mound and still pitched against another three batters before leaving the game.

KELLY: But as he told St. Louis Public Radio, that reputation was not something he cultivated.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED NPR BROADCAST)

GIBSON: The intimidation, as far as I'm concerned, is not me intimidating you. It's you being intimidated by me. I'm glad they were intimidated by me, but that really wasn't what I was trying to do.

CHANG: Gibson played during the civil rights movement, and his longtime catcher Tim McCarver was a white man from Memphis.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED NPR BROADCAST)

GIBSON: He was taught that Black people were not equal and that they were subpar. But when you get to the point where you play together, you live together, you realize that all of the stuff that you were taught was not true. Here's a guy that I really enjoy being with.

KELLY: That is record-breaker and barrier-breaker Bob Gibson. He died Friday. He was 84 years old.

(SOUNDBITE OF LEIFUR JAMES SONG, "MUMMA DON'T TELL") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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