Monday, February 14, 2011

#514 Bob Gibson

This is by far the worst conditioned card in my 1959 set. But it's also the one that means the most and the reason I'm filling up a binder with this great group of cards. This Bob Gibson is the only '59 Topps that has survived from my childhood. Besides that, even given the condition it's in ("Poor" would be a generous grade) I love this one. Gibby looks happy to be posing for his rookie card and he's smiling out at us from an outrageously inappropriate pink setting. This is a 'high number' card, note the red and black on white reverse. One day I'll upgrade this card but I'm not in any hurry. This old warhorse of a card will anchor my set for the time being.

I don't remember how the tape got on the back but it doesn't detract from the card in my eyes. Neither do the creases or rounded corners. It had hidden in a copy of the first Beckett Price Guide as a bookmark and sat forgotten in a storage box in my closet. Sorting through the box a couple of summers ago brought Gibby's card back into my hands and the answer to the question I'd been asking myself for some time ("Which vintage set do I want to collect") was answered.

I was fortunate enough to see Gibson pitch and believe me, he was a real badass on the mound. My favorite memory comes, ironically, from 1975, his last season and the final time I saw him perform. I attended this game in mid-August with a friend of mine who happens to be a lifelong Cardinal fan. As Gibby's career came to an end he struggled through a year that saw him saddled with a 3-10 record and an ERA over five. But on this day Gibson came into the game after the Cards had taken a one run lead in the top of the eleventh. I distinctly recall watching from seats behind the Cardinal dugout as he stalked out to the mound with that look that few pitchers had. My friend and I both saw it and said to one another 'Game over." And it was. Gibby blew away three Astros (looking!!) to wrap up the game. Awesome.

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