Hall of Famer Bob Gibson, the dominating St. Louis Cardinals pitcher who won a record seven consecutive World Series starts and set a modern standard for excellence when he finished the 1968 season with a 1.12 ERA, died Friday. He was 84. The Cardinals confirmed Gibson's death shortly after a 4-0 playoff loss to San Diego ended their season, per the AP. He'd long been ill with pancreatic cancer in his hometown of Omaha, Neb. One of baseball’s most uncompromising competitors, the two-time Cy Young Award winner spent his entire 17-year career with St. Louis and was named the World Series MVP in that team's 1964 and '67 championship seasons. In '68, Gibson was voted the National League's MVP and shut down opponents so well that baseball changed the rules for fear fans would become bored. Officials lowered the mound from 15 to 10 inches in 1969 and shrank the strike zone.
During the regular season, Gibson struck out more than 200 batters nine times and led the National League in shutouts four times, finishing with 56 in his career. He was, somehow, even greater in the postseason, finishing 7-2 with a 1.89 ERA and 92 strikeouts in 81 innings. Baseball wasn't his only sport, either. He also starred in basketball at Creighton University and spent a year with the Harlem Globetrotters before totally turning his attention to the diamond. Equally disciplined and impatient, Gibson worked so quickly that broadcaster Vin Scully joked that he pitched as if his car was double-parked. Gibson snubbed opposing players and sometimes teammates who dared speak to him on a day he was pitching, and he didn't even spare his own family. "I've played a couple of hundred games of tic-tac-toe with my little daughter and she hasn't beaten me yet," he once told Roger Angell of the New Yorker. "I've always had to win. I've got to win."
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