Stranger to the Game: The Autobiography of Bob Gibson

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Overview

Few pitchers dominated baseball like Hall of Famer Bob Gibson. In the 1960s, Gibson's lightning fastball, menacing demeanor, and unforgiving attitude toward pitchers vs. batters' rights broke personal records and won championships for the St. Louis Cardinals. In 1968 - The Year of the Pitcher - Gibson posted the astoundingly low ERA of 1.12, prompting new rules to improve hitters' chances. Despite his astonishing exploits and accomplishments, Gibson, a self-described glowering black man who wouldn't make small ...
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Overview

Few pitchers dominated baseball like Hall of Famer Bob Gibson. In the 1960s, Gibson's lightning fastball, menacing demeanor, and unforgiving attitude toward pitchers vs. batters' rights broke personal records and won championships for the St. Louis Cardinals. In 1968 - The Year of the Pitcher - Gibson posted the astoundingly low ERA of 1.12, prompting new rules to improve hitters' chances. Despite his astonishing exploits and accomplishments, Gibson, a self-described glowering black man who wouldn't make small talk or apologies for pitching inside, could never find a job in a front office. Now with Lonnie Wheeler, co-author of Hank Aaron's bestselling I Had a Hammer, the ace hurler fires off his no-holds-barred reflections on a life in baseball. He recalls barnstorming the Jim Crow South with Willie Mays's black all-stars and the pioneering breakthroughs he made with fellow Cardinals such as Tim McCarver and Bob Uecker to build a team tradition of racial harmony. Career highlights, including three World Series and pitching duels with Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale, and Denny McLain, come to life in riveting vignettes. His ferocity on the field is recounted with humor and admiration by the likes of Hank Aaron, Bill White, Joe Torre, and other greats. The result is a first-class baseball book by one of the game's most uncompromising and eloquent stars.

Hall of Fame pitcher Bob Gibson has always been one of baseball's most uncompromising stars. Gibson's no-holds-barred autobiography recounts the story of his life, from barnstorming around the segregated South with Willie Mays' black all stars to his astonishing later career as a three-time World Series winner and one of the game's all-time greatest players.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Gibson describes himself as ``a glowering black man who wouldn't make small talk.'' Playing his entire major-league career (1959-1975) with the St. Louis Cardinals, he built a reputation as the most competitive pitcher in the game. With Wheeler, who coauthored I Had a Hammer with Hank Aaron, Gibson tells the story of his youth in Omaha, Neb., his brilliance as a basketball player (he was good enough to play with the Harlem Globetrotters), his astounding record ERA of 1.12 in 1968 and his exceptional performances in three World Series. Always known for expressing himself directly, he tells of his battle against prejudice and bigotry in his home town, in the 1950s Jim Crow South and in his fruitless quest for a front office job after he hung up his spikes. Gibson pitches a memoir that is hard and inside. Photos not seen by PW. 75,000 first printing; $75,000 ad/promo; author tour. (Sept.)
Library Journal
Legendary pitcher Gibson uses his career as the pivotal point for assessing how baseball has changed from the Sixties, when he was playing.
Wes Lukowsky
The early sixties through the mid-seventies was a golden age for major-league pitchers. Among the many Hall of Famers who excelled in this period, St. Louis Cardinal right-hander Bob Gibson may have been the most dominant. What set Gibson apart from his peers was his competitiveness. Here, with the help of Lonnie Wheeler (coauthor of Hank Aaron's autobiography, "I Had a Hammer" [1991]), Gibson examines his competitive drive and its sources from his childhood in Omaha, Nebraska, through his major-league career. There are dozens of wonderful anecdotessome supplied by Gibson and more by his on-field contemporariesthat illustrate the man's unyielding will. Along the way, Gibson clears up a couple of misconceptions. The scowl that so terrified the batters Gibson faced over the years was actually a squint. Gibson, who wore glasses off the field, had trouble seeing the catcher's signs from the mound. An undercurrent of bitterness is clearly detectable throughout this account, stemming apparently from the fact that, with the exception of a couple of short-term coaching stints, Gibson has never found a job in baseball after he retired as a player. Is it because he's black? Black and outspoken? Just outspoken? A threat to less charismatic personalities who might hire him? Gibson doesn't know, but he wants a job and certainly deserves one. As a sports autobiography, this is a better-than-average effort that will likely sell its 75,000 first printing; as a job application, let's hope it's equally successful.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780670847945
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 9/28/1994
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 9.26 (w) x 6.29 (h) x 1.05 (d)

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 17, 2001

    Good book, full of jealously however

    This book by Lonnie Wheeler and Bob Gibson is one of the finest baseball biographies I have ever read. It is replete with interviews from former teammates, adversaries, and friends. It is a remarkable reminder of how the game of baseball was pure in the 60's before the advent of the hitter-dominated game. Yetr I sense a bit of jealously in Gibson when he refers to his biggest nemesis: Sandy Koufax. Gibson argues that Koufax probably had the greatest five years any pitcher has ever had. However, Gibson argues that because it was just five years, his career was more accomplished because of it's longevity. This unnecessary staterment by Gibson reduces my rating of it from five to four stars. It is well known that Koufax accomplished a great deal more in his five unbelievable seasons, than Gibson did in his 11 good seasons. I'll admit 1968 was a spectacular year, but Koufax's 1963, 1965, and 1966 seasons were better. It is a good read however, filled with intelligent commentary from both Gibson and his fellow players.

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