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On This Date in Sports August 14, 1971: Bob Gibson's No Hitter

In collaboration with Sportsecyclopedia.com

Bob Gibson of the St. Louis Cardinals tosses the only No-Hitter of his career, blanking the Pittsburgh Pirates 11-0 at Three Rivers Stadium. Gibson had been one of the era's most dominant pitchers, highlighted by a 1968 season in which he recorded a 1.12 ERA, the best in the modern era. Gibson also had three RBI in the game, as the Cardinals kept the pressure on the first-place Pirates. 

Pack Robert Gibson was born on November 9, 1935, in Omaha, Nebraska. The youngest of seven children, Gibson was named after his father, who died from tuberculous before his birth. Gibson hated the name Pack and went by Robert. Bob Gibson suffered several ailments as a child, including rickets, asthma, and a heart murmur. To keep up his strength, Gibson was active in sports as a child, playing for the local YMCA. He later earned a basketball scholarship to Creighton after being rejected by Indiana, who stated their quota for black players had been filed. 

At Creighton, Bob Gibson was a top basketball star, earning interest from the Harlem Globetrotters. Still, baseball held his future as he was signed by the St. Louis Cardinals in 1957, with a $3,000 signing bonus after playing briefly with the famous barnstorming basketball team. He made his major league debut with St. Louis in 1959, splitting the next two seasons between the minors and the majors before getting a full-time spot in the Cardinals' rotation in 1961. 

Bob Gibson made his first on nine All-Star Game appearances in 1962; he developed into the Cardinals' ace over the next three seasons. In the 1964 World Series, Bob Gibson won two games, including Game 7, to lead the Cardinals past the New York Yankees. In 1967, Gibson overcame a broken leg to win three games in the Fall Classic against the Boston Red Sox, including his second Game 7 complete-game win. 

Bob Gibson's1968 season was among the greatest in baseball history, as his 1.12 ERA became the best in baseball's modern era. He won both the Cy Young and MVP in the National League, as he won two World Series games, striking out a record 17 Detroit Tigers in the opener. Gibson saw a seven-game World Series winning streak end when he lost Game 7, as Curt Flood's misplay in center field led to the Cardinals falling short of a third title in five years. Gibson would win the Cy Young again in 1970.

Bob Gibson had his struggles in 1971, holding a 10-10 record as the second place Cardinals managed by Red Schoendiest tried to make a move on the first place Pittsburgh Pirates managed by Danny Murtaugh. Gibson was opposed by Bob Johnson as the Pirates sought to build upon their lead. The Cardinals jumped all over Johnson, scoring five runs in the first, as Joe Hague hit a three-run homer to knock the starter from the game. 

Bob Moose came on and stabilized the game for Pittsburgh, but Bob Gibson was in command, striking out ten and walking three, as he made his way to history. The Cardinals added three runs in the fifth, with Gibson driving in Ted Kubiak with a sacrifice fly. Bob Gibson added two more runs with a single with the bases loaded in the eighth against Bob Veale, as the Cardinals extended their lead to 11-0.

 In the ninth inning, the Pirates who had given Roberto Clemente the day off had Vic Davillio and Al Oliver ground out to start the inning, as Willie Stargell, the NL's leading home run hitter in 1971 struck out to end the No-Hitter for Bob Gibson.