The opening round of the 2010 baseball playoffs has been characterized by overwhelming pitching performances from starters Roy Halladay (the 2nd no-hitter in post-season history), Cliff Lee, Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum, among many other notables. Some have compared the domination to the original “Year of the Pitcher,” in 1968. That season, the tremendous exploits of hurlers such as Denny McLain, Luis Tiant, Juan Marichal, Don Drysdale and Bob Gibson led to rules changes still in place today.
Then or now, pitcher or batter, domination in baseball is a derivation and a distillation of factors which include competitive zeal. Hall of Famer Bob Gibson of the St. Louis Cardinals is a legend for his refusal to concede defeat and for his diligence in always pitching to his utmost. It seems Gibson emerged from the womb with an intact fighting spirit. His father died before his birth, and the young Gibson was afflicted with severe cases of pneumonia and rickets that left him weak and undersized. Under the tutelage of his older brother who also served as his little league coach, Gibson became known for his ferocious, intimidating, take-no-prisoners style. He took the game very serious and his responsibility to do his best as doctrine, and he became a team leader who enforced the same standard of excellence in his teammates.
He was a multi-sport standout in college and even played a year of basketball with the Harlem Globetrotters. He was not a highly-regarded pitcher at the start of his career, in spite of his brash competitiveness, and it took almost 6 full seasons for him to ascend to the height of his profession. The hard knocks along the way served to further strengthen Gibson’s already off-the-charts determination.
An indicator of his passion for the game: he once was struck on the leg by a batted ball during a game and pitched to several more batters before he was pulled. He suffered a broken leg, but he was more upset that he gave up a hit! His constant focus, consistent mental strength, unmatched drive to excel, and his ability to perform at his best during clutch situations provide vivid examples of greatness. Be like Gibson, and be your greatest.