Wednesday, October 2, 2013

October 2, 1968: Bob Gibson Strikes Out 17 in Game One of The Fall Classic

On October 2, 1968, Bob Gibson set a World Series record by striking out 17 Detroit Tigers batters in in a 4-0 win in Game 1 of the Fall Classic. Gibson was set to face 31 game-winner Denny McLain in the game that had instant classic written on it before either pitcher took the bump. McLain pitched just 5 innings and allowed 3 runs, the Detroit hurler was victimized by three errors and his own wildness while Gibson was well in control and on his way to making history. Through the first three innings Gibby mowed down 7, he would later say that he wasn't feeling his strongest but he had great control. McLain looked strong until the fourth, suddenly he lost control and walked Roger Maris on four straight pitches. He then retired Orlando Cepeda on a popup before walking Tim McCarver on four straight pitches. Mike Shannon shot a single into left, scoring Maris. Then the ball got past Willie Horton and Shannon took second while McCarver moved over to third. Julian Javier delivered with a single that scored both the runners and the Birds had a 3-0 lead while their ace was looking like a strikeout machine. Lou Brock connected with a solo shot in the seventh which accounted for the final run of the game. Brock had stolen a base in the third, then smashed his home run deep to right center more than 400 feet away from the dish. Gibson held the Tigers to just 5 hits, their only true threat came in the sixth when Dick McAuliffe singled and Al Kaline doubled. With men on second and third and two out Gibby struckout Norm Cash to get out of the jam. The only other Tigers hits were a single from Mickey Stanley in the first, a single by Don Wert in the third, then another single by Stanley to lead off the ninth. Gibson was one strikeout shy of Sandy Koufax's record of 15 as he headed into the ninth, Koufax set the mark in 1963, just 5 years later Gibson was about to obliterate it. After giving up the lead off single to Stanley, Gibson tied the record with a strikeout of Al Kaline. His next victim was Norm Cash, Gibson didn't even realize that he had broken the record, he was so locked in that he didn't even know why the crowd was giving him a standing ovation. "Tim came out in front of the plate and wouldn't go back" Gibson said "I didn't know what to make of it, so I looked at the scoreboard, then I knew." There it was flashing NEW WORLD SERIES RECORD 16 Ks!!! Then Willie Horton came to the plate and took the count to 2 and 2 before Gibson fired his 144th pitch over the dish that caught Horton looking. It was an absolute epic moment as the crowd of 54,692 cheered the great Bob Gibson as he had just delivered one of the greatest performances in World Series history.

You can watch the entire game here: or you can watch a great highlight video here:

Check out the box score:

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