Bob Gibson

How Bob Gibson won his second Cy Young Award in 1970

On November 3, 1970, the Baseball Writers Association of America named Bob Gibson the National League Cy Young Award winner for the second time in three years.

With the recognition, Gibson became just the third pitcher to win multiple Cy Young Awards, joining Sandy Koufax and Denny McLain. Gibson previously had won the award in 1968.

“It’s a great honor,” said Gibson, who went 23-7 with a 3.12 ERA on the season. “I’m looking forward to winning 20 games – at least that many – next year. My arm is fine and I just like to keep on winning as much as I can.”[1]

The 34-year-old Gibson started the season slowly. After a disastrous outing against the Astros on May 18 in which he allowed six earned runs on 12 hits in 5 2/3 innings, he found himself with a 2-3 record and 5.34 ERA.

From that point forward, however, Gibson returned to vintage form. In his next start, Gibson struck out a season-high 16 batters in a complete-game win over the Phillies. It marked the first of 10 consecutive wins, including wins in all seven of his June starts. He won 21 of his final 25 decisions. On the final day of the season, Gibson signed a $150,000 contract for the 1971 season that made him baseball’s highest-paid player.

“I think 1970 was the second-best season of my career – second to 1968,” Gibson said. “The season was somewhat disappointing because we were never in the race and winning the pennant and getting into the World Series is what it is all about.”[2]

Gibson’s 23 wins tied San Francisco’s Gaylord Perry for the National League lead. It marked the fifth time in his career he had reached 20 wins in a season, breaking the franchise record he previously shared with Dizzy Dean.

“Actually, Gibson had his best won-and-lost season, and in many ways he did it under trying conditions,” Cardinals general manager Bing Devine said. “This was his first year on AstroTurf, which had to be somewhat detrimental to him, and there were all those other things – shortened strike zone, lowered mound, etc.”[3]

Gibson’s 274 strikeouts marked the third consecutive year he had broken the franchise record for strikeouts in the season, and made him the first pitcher in major-league history to post eight seasons with at least 200 strikeouts.

Of the 24 Cy Young Award ballots, 23 placed Gibson first on 23 and was the only player named on every ballot. Perry, who went 23-13 with a 3.20 ERA and 214 strikeouts, received the only other first-place vote (Gibson was second on that ballot).

The Cubs’ Fergie Jenkins finished third in the balloting after he went 22-16 with a 3.39 ERA and 274 strikeouts.

In addition to the Cy Young Award, Gibson won his sixth consecutive Gold Glove Award and finished fourth in the National League MVP voting behind Cincinnati’s Johnny Bench, Chicago’s Billy Williams, and Cincinnati’s Tony Perez.

He also hit .303 with two homers and 19 RBIs, marking the only time in his career that he hit over .300.

Gibson finished the season with 190 career wins, leaving him 10 shy of 200.

“I don’t have any special goals along those lines and winning 200 doesn’t mean too much to me,” he said.[4]

Gibson went on to pitch five more seasons for the Cardinals. In 1971, he threw the only no-hitter of his career and in 1974 he recorded his 3,000th strikeout. He retired with a 251-174 career record and a 2.91 ERA over 17 seasons, all in St. Louis. In 1981, he was elected to the Hall of Fame.

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[1] “Award OK But Gib Likes Wins,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, November 4, 1970.

[2] “Award OK But Gib Likes Wins,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, November 4, 1970.

[3] Neal Russo, “Gibson’s Reward: $150,000 Pact for ’71,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, October 2, 1970.

[4] “Award OK But Gib Likes Wins,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, November 4, 1970.