Flaherty, Molina, Shildt remember Gibson

October 3rd, 2020

Yadier Molina said it best Friday night, after the Cardinals’ season ended with a loss to the Padres in the National League Wild Card Series and the team walked off the field to news that Hall of Famer Bob Gibson had died at 84 years old. 

“The game is a game,” Molina said, talking through tears. “You can lose a game, but when you lose a guy like Bob Gibson, a legend, [it’s] just hard. I just want to say that. I wish the family the best. We [lost] another one. Cardinal Nation [lost] another one. 

“We lose a game, yeah we lose a series, but without him, we lose one great man. So, it’s just hard.”

Less than a month after Hall of Famer Lou Brock died, Gibson passed away Friday after a battle with pancreatic cancer. He was the greatest Cardinals pitcher of them all, and the hard-throwing right-hander with the nasty slider was perhaps the most intense Cardinals player ever.

Gibson was remembered around the baseball world Friday night for his excellence and toughness on and off the field. Stories were shared about what Gibson meant to the game and to so many who watched him pitch.

“It’s another big loss, right there with Lou, that’s hard to swallow,” manager Mike Shildt said. “We know he’s in a place with more comfort and peace. But it’s a big loss for our organization. He stood up for himself, he stood up for his teammates, he was an elite athlete, an elite competitor, he was a winner. I think he would have enjoyed playing on this team. We’re going to miss him.”

Jack Flaherty knew what Gibson’s condition was and had Gibson in the back of his mind when he took the mound Friday against the Padres. He almost wore his Bob Gibson jersey to the ballpark Friday but decided against it. Learning of Gibson’s passing hurt, Flaherty said. The two had a special relationship ever since Gibson began giving Flaherty advice after his 2018 rookie season.

The last piece of advice Flaherty heard from Gibson? Be you. And attack. Just like always.

“All I can say is I’m incredibly thankful to have had a relationship with him and to have learned what I learned from him,” Flaherty said after Friday’s game, in which he pitched six innings of one-run ball. “To have been able to talk to him and ask him for advice and for different things. … I just want to send my thoughts and prayers to his family and everybody who was close to him. He was a legend, first and foremost. Somebody who I was lucky enough to develop a relationship with, was lucky enough to learn from. And you don’t get that from people like that very often. You don’t get the opportunity to learn from somebody of that caliber and somebody who is that good very often.”

In 2019, as Flaherty worked through an inconsistent first half of the season, Gibson spoke with him about challenging hitters and being more aggressive with his pitches. Flaherty listened, had a historic second half of the 2019 season and turned into the Cardinals ace.

“It’s just really special,” Flaherty said. “For someone of that caliber to come and seek you out. What you want to do as an athlete is you want to seek advice from the best of the best, and there’s not many people better than a guy like that. To be able to get advice from him, you want to be able to pull and pull and pull information from guys with that level and that caliber.”