Pitching ace throws first no-hitter - HISTORY
Year
1971

Pitching ace throws first no-hitter

On August 14, 1971, St. Louis Cardinals ace Bob Gibson throws the first no-hitter of his storied career. Gibson’s heroics helped his team sail to an 11-0 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Gibson overcame numerous childhood ailments–including rickets, asthma and a heart murmur–to earn a basketball scholarship to Creighton University after high school. His basketball skills were so impressive that in 1957 he spent a year playing for the Harlem Globetrotters, an exhibition team devoted to combining humor and basketball tricks, that was comprised of world-class players like Meadowlark Lemon and, for a time, Wilt Chamberlain. Despite the good pay, Gibson soon became frustrated with the team’s emphasis on comedic showmanship, and decided to switch sports. Prior to the 1958 season, Gibson signed as a pitcher with baseball’s St. Louis Cardinals, and after a year in the minors, was promoted to the major leagues. By 1962, he was one of the team’s most accomplished starters, and he soon established himself as one of the most dominant pitchers in baseball history.

In 1964, after helping the Cardinals to a World Series championship with two wins and 31 strikeouts, Gibson won his first World Series Most Valuable Player Award. The Cardinals won the World Series again three years later in 1967, and Gibson delivered another MVP performance, throwing 17 strikeouts in Game 1 to break Sandy Koufax’s record of 15 in a World Series game. In 1968, Gibson’s play was perhaps the best ever by a pitcher: He pitched 28 complete games and 13 shutouts and kept his earned run average to just 1.12 for the season, the lowest in the modern era, with 268 strikeouts and a 22-9 record. For his efforts, he was awarded the first of his two Cy Young Awards as the best pitcher in the National League.

The Pittsburgh Pirates, Gibson’s opponent on August 14, had recently given “Bullet” Bob quite a bit of a trouble. Four years earlier, his leg had been broken by a line drive hit by star Pirates outfielder Roberto Clemente. In 1970, the year of his second Cy Young Award, the Pirates beat Gibson three straight times. On this day in 1971, however, Gibson got his revenge, both on the mound and at the plate. He threw 10 strikeouts and walked just three batters, as well as contributing a two-run single in the eighth. The only threat to his no-hitter came when Milt May launched a fly ball 390 feet to left-center in the seventh, but Cardinal Jose Cruz tracked it down. With two outs in the ninth inning, the Pittsburgh crowd stood and cheered as Gibson struck out slugging star Willie Stargell for the first and only no-hitter of his long and impressive career.

Bob Gibson retired after the 1975 season. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1981.

ALSO ON THIS DAY

Russians settle Alaska

On Kodiak Island, Grigory Shelikhov, a Russian fur trader, founds Three Saints Bay, the first permanent Russian settlement in Alaska.The European discovery of Alaska came in 1741, when a Russian expedition led by Danish navigator Vitus Bering sighted the Alaskan mainland. Russian ...read more

Peking relieved by multinational force

During the Boxer Rebellion, an international force featuring British, Russian, American, Japanese, French, and German troops relieves the Chinese capital of Peking after fighting its way 80 miles from the port of Tientsin. The Chinese nationalists besieging Peking’s diplomatic ...read more

Blackout hits Northeast United States

On this day in 2003, a major outage knocked out power across the eastern United States and parts of Canada. Beginning at 4:10 p.m. ET, 21 power plants shut down in just three minutes. Fifty million people were affected, including residents of New York, Cleveland and Detroit, as ...read more

Japan’s surrender made public

On this day in 1945, an official announcement of Japan’s unconditional surrender to the Allies is made public to the Japanese people.Even though Japan’s War Council, urged by Emperor Hirohito, had already submitted a formal declaration of surrender to the Allies, via ambassadors, ...read more

U.S. bombing of Cambodia ceases

After several days of intense bombing in support of Lon Nol’s forces fighting the communist Khmer Rouge in the area around Phnom Penh, Operations Arc Light and Freedom Deal end as the United States ceases bombing Cambodia at midnight. This was in accordance with June ...read more

Seventh Marines land at Chu Lai

The advance units of the Seventh Marines land at Chu Lai, bringing U.S. Marine strength in South Vietnam to four regiments and four air groups. The Marines were given the responsibility of conducting operations in southern I Corps and northern II Corps, just south of the ...read more

Hanoi prepares for more air attacks

Hanoi is reported to be holding air-raid drills for fear of more U.S. attacks in the wake of the Pierce Arrow retaliatory raids that had been flown in response to the Gulf of Tonkin incident.The North Vietnamese government urged all civilians with nonessential posts to leave the ...read more

FDR signs Social Security Act

On this day in 1935, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signs into law the Social Security Act. Press photographers snapped pictures as FDR, flanked by ranking members of Congress, signed into law the historic act, which guaranteed an income for the unemployed and retirees. FDR ...read more

Montana “Vigilante X” is born

John X. Beidler, one of the best known of the notoriously secretive Montana vigilantes, is born in Pennsylvania.Beidler, who preferred to be called simply “X,” had little formal education and tried his hand at a variety of trades. Initially a shoemaker, he also worked briefly as ...read more

Steve Martin born

On this day in 1945, the comedian, actor and writer Steve Martin, who would rise to fame as a “wild and crazy” comedian during the 1970s, is born in Waco, Texas.Martin grew up in California and in his teens worked at Disneyland, where he entertained crowds with magic tricks and ...read more

A daughter poisons her father

Francis Blandy falls into a coma and dies in his home outside London, England. Later that night, Blandy’s daughter Mary offered one of the family’s servants a large sum of money to help her get to France immediately. Mary was forced to flee on her own when he refused, but she was ...read more

Confederate invasion of Kentucky begins

Confederate General Edmund Kirby Smith begins an invasion of Kentucky as part of a Confederate plan to draw the Yankee army of General Don Carlos Buell away from Chattanooga, Tennessee, and to raise support for the Southern cause in Kentucky.Smith led 10,000 troops out of ...read more