Wednesday, July 15, 2015

July 15, 1967: Gibby Breaks His Leg

     On July 15, 1967, a line drive off of Roberto Clemente's bat broke Bob Gibson's right leg during a 6-4 loss to the Pirates at Busch Stadium in St. Louis. Gibby fell to the ground writhing in pain, then cam to his feet, and after being examined he was allowed to continue. He faced three more batters, walked the first, retired the second, then walked Don Clendenon, before collapsing again.

      As the game continued an evaluation began, which led to x-rays at a local hospital where it was revealed that Gibson had broken his fibula, the smaller bone in the lower leg. It was a devastating blow to the team that had their sights set on a pennant. Gibby had won 21 games the year before, and was the anchor of a what proved to be a very talented pitching staff, who had to rally together and go on without their leader. They did exactly that.

     The Redbird ace was ruled out for 4 to 6 weeks. The man who filled the shoes of Gibson in the rotation took the loss that day against the Bucs. That man was Nelson Briles. Briles turned into a bit of an ace himself down the stretch, winning nine consecutive games to end the season. Other than Briles, a 29-year-old rookie by the name Dick Hughes stepped in while Gibson was in a cast. The two posted a combined 7-2 record while Gibby recovered. A kid named Steve Carlton also stepped up, and won five games during that stretch. The team stared adversity straight in the eye and proved that they could pass the test.

     Gibby returned to the bump on September 7th, and won three more games for the club that won 101 games and the pennant that had set their sights on when the seasoned opened in April. In a way the injury was a blessing in disguise, as Gibson came back well-rested, then went onto carry the team through the World Series, winning three games, which included the one the mattered most: Game 7. He was the World Series MVP, and the pain and agony of being injured on that day in mid July was a distant memory. He was a champion once again, and in the end he had quite the tale to tell, as a man who faced three more batters after breaking his leg. Bob Gibson was a badass... excuse me, he still is a badass.

Take this quiz to see how well you know Bob Gibson: One of the answers is a gimme, because it is included in this story.

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