If you could build a dominant starting pitcher for a baseball team, you'd want your mold to be Cardinals legend Bob Gibson: a hard-throwing, mentally tough, ultra-competitive student of the game and the opposing players. Gibson was feared for his take-no-prisoners attitude as much as his stinging fastball. This is the man who brushed back Reggie Jackson in a game — an old-timers game in 1992, almost twenty years after he retired from the Bigs. Speaking of Mr. October, his combination of supreme confidence and coiled power at the plate made him something of a legendary hitter. He'd be a good prototype for the cleanup hitter on that team you were assembling earlier. Gibson and Jackson have combined their knowledge and love of baseball to create the book Sixty Feet, Six Inches: A Hall of Fame Pitcher & a Hall of Fame Hitter Talk About How the Game Is Played. Excerpts of the book prove to be an old-time baseball fan's dream, full of entertaining anecdotes and straight talk about how the enemy thinks. Gibson discusses his famous irascibility (Pirates outfielder Gene Clines asked him to sign a ball in spring training; Gibson threw it into the outfield.) and Jackson's annoying tendencies in the batter's box. Jackson shares secrets for disrupting a pitcher's concentration, manipulating the flow of the game and how to take advantage of a pitcher's fear of plunking a batter, although he notes that Gibson didn't have that fear: "His attitude was, 'If I'm gonna miss, I'm gonna miss at you.'" That's the stuff of legends. Bob Gibson signs copies of Sixty Feet, Six Inches at 7 p.m. this evening at the Barnes & Noble in West County Center (I-270 and Manchester Road; 314-835-9980). Admission is free, and the book will be available for purchase.
Tue., Sept. 22, 2009