Boston Red Sox great and Hall of Famer Carl Yastrzemski, shown before a game at Fenway Park in September 2019, recalled Bob Gibson as a fierce competitor. Charles Krupa/Associated Press

Bob Gibson.

The name conjures up a lot of things in the mind of Carl Yastrzemski.

“A competitor, like no other,” said Yaz after hearing the passing of the Baseball Hall of Famer who spent his entire career with the St. Louis Cardinals.

St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Bob Gibson is pictured during spring training in 1968, died this week at age 84. Associated Press

Gibson’s credentials rival those of Yaz. He won an MVP, as a pitcher. He was a nine-time all-star. He had 255 complete games. And he won two World Series, both times the MVP.

Baseball is supposed to be a sport where one player can’t win a championship alone. But in Yaz’s Triple Crown year, 1967, the year that changed the Red Sox franchise forever, the Impossible Dream team, the perfect ending fell one game short.

A Bob Gibson game short.

Gibson was 3-0 in that dramatic World Series, clinching the finale, 7-2, in Game 7. Those were the only two runs Gibson allowed in three complete games.

Gibson went on three days rest for each start against the Red Sox. In Game 7, Sox starter Jim Lonborg, who was 2-0 in his first two World Series starts, took the ball for Game 7 on only two day’s rest.

“Gibson almost won the World Series himself,” said Yaz. “It’s hard to do in baseball. But he was different.”

Yaz recalled going 0 for 4 against Gibson in Game 1, with some light contact. After the game he took more than an hour of batting practice.

“I was upset. I had to take some better swings,” recalled Yaz.

In Game 4, Gibson allowed only five hits. Yaz had two of them, a hard single to right and a double to right center.

In Game 7, against Gibson again, Yaz went 1 for 3 with a walk.

Overall, Gibson struck out 26 batters in 27 innings.

“I never faced Pedro Martinez, but I’m sure he and Bob were very similar in their competitiveness,” said Yaz. “They wouldn’t give in an inch.”

Over their long careers, Yaz faced Gibson only two other times. One was in an all-star game in which Yaz hit a single. The other was a spring training game.

In fact, that spring training game early in Yaz’s career was the only time he ever remembers having a conversation, albeit a short one, with Gibson.

“I walk up to the batter’s box and he’s in front of the mound,” recalled Yaz. “He starts walking toward home plate and he says, ‘I’m going to strike you out!’ I said, ‘All right. Bring it on!”

That was it. The only discussion between two all-time greats and very private men.

What happened in the at bat, after the short conversation?

“I forget,” said Yaz while laughing. “But I do know he didn’t strike me out. That I know.”

Related Headlines

Comments are not available on this story.