Signed in blue ballpoint on the sweet spot
Inscription: HOF 81
Robert "Bob" Gibson (born November 9, 1935) is a retired American baseball pitcher who played 17 seasons in Major League Baseball (MLB) for the St. Louis Cardinals (1959–75). Nicknamed "Gibby" and "Hoot", Gibson tallied 251 wins, 3,117 strikeouts, and a 2.91 earned run average (ERA) during his career. A nine-time All-Star and two-time World Series champion, he won two Cy Young Awards and the 1968 National League (NL) Most Valuable Player (MVP) Award. In 1981, he was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility. The Cardinals retired his uniform number 45 in September 1975 and inducted him into the team Hall of Fame in 2014.
Born in Omaha, Nebraska, Gibson overcame childhood illness to excel in youth sports, particularly basketball and baseball. After briefly playing under contract to both the basketball Harlem Globetrotters team and the St. Louis Cardinals organization, Gibson decided to continue playing only baseball professionally. Once becoming a full-time starting pitcher in July 1961, Gibson began experiencing an increasing level of success, earning his first All-Star appearance in 1962. Gibson won two of three games he pitched in the 1964 World Series, then won 20 games in a season for the first time in 1965. Gibson also pitched three complete game victories in the 1967 World Series.
The pinnacle of Gibson's career was 1968, when he posted a 1.12 ERA for the season and then followed that by recording 17 strikeouts during Game 1 of the 1968 World Series. Over the course of his career, Gibson became known for his fierce competitive nature and the intimidation factor he used against opposing batters. Gibson threw a no-hitter during the 1971 season, but began experiencing swelling in his knee in subsequent seasons. After retiring as a player in 1975, Gibson later served as pitching coach for his former teammate Joe Torre. At one time a special instructor coach for the St. Louis Cardinals, Gibson was later selected for the Major League Baseball All-Century Team in 1999. Gibson is the author of the memoir Pitch by Pitch, with Lonnie Wheeler (Flatiron Books, 2015).