Bob Gibson’s First and Last Games Memorable … For Other Players

Bob Gibson 1975 001

It is not the best way to end a Hall of Fame career.

Here is the pitching line. In one inning, this legend gave up five runs on two hits with three walks. The game was tied at 6-6 when he walked to the mound and it was 11-6 when he left.

The last batter that St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Bob Gibson faced in his illustrious career was Don Kessinger of the Chicago Cubs in Busch Stadium on Sept. 3, 1975.

Kessinger grounded out and Gibson was finished. However, it was the hitter before the Chicago shortstop where retirement became the answer for the righthander.

Pete LaCock, the son of television game show host Peter Marshall, hit a pinch-hit grand slam homer off Gibson to tag him with the loss as he ended the year at 3-10. LaCock played parts of nine seasons for the Cubs and Kansas City Royals. He would only hit 27 homers in his career.

Pete LaCock 001In his autobiography “Stranger to the Game” with Lonnie Wheeler, Gibson is quoted as saying to himself after the part-time player his the homer, “That’s it. I’m out of here.”

And he was. His career basically ended the same way it began with a homer to someone a lot of fans might not remember.

Gibson made his major league debut against the Los Angeles Dodgers on April 15, 1959. He worked the final two innings in relief of Larry Jackson as the Dodgers won 5-0 in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Hall of Fame pitcher Don Drysdale was in the winning pitcher for the Dodgers.

Perhaps the least memorable moment for Gibson in his initial big league outing was surrendering a home run to Jim Baxes, who would finish the season with the Cleveland Indians.

Gibson didn’t stick around with the Cardinals either as he was sent back to the minors a few days later.

Baxes would only play in the majors during the 1959 season after signing with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947. The 30-year old was traded to the Indians in May.

Jim Baxes 1960 001In 88 games that year, the third baseman hit 17 homers and had a batting average of .246, but it was good enough to be named the first-ever Topps All-Star Rookie Team.

Of course, Gibson did make it back to the big leagues later in 1959 and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1981. Over his 17 years, Gibson was 251-174 and he won two Cy Young Awards (1968, 1970), while earning the National League Most Valuable Player honor in 1968.


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