52 years ago Monday Pirates legend Roberto Clemente broke Cardinals pitcher Bob Gibson's leg with a line drive up the middle.
For a normal human being, that's a season ending injury.
All Gibson did was come back two months later and go on to win three games in the World Series, leading the Cardinals to a championship. Including a complete game in Game 7 where he also hit a home run.
The man was larger than life on the baseball field.
Maybe that's why Saturday's news that Gibson was battling Pancreatic Cancer was so devastating. Gibson has always been the Cardinals' indestructible superhuman.
In his historic 1968 season where his microscopic 1.12 ERA, 13 shut outs and 268 strikeouts led to a Cy Young and MVP award, Gibson revealed he might have suffered a heart attack in the middle of the season. Nothing phased him.
Oh yeah, that was the same season Gibson was so dominant that baseball had to literally lower the mound to adjust.
The hall of famer epitomizes what it means to be a legend.
There's not a hard-throwing, intimidating pitcher that can make it to the major leagues without a Bob Gibson reference being thrown about.
Last year, St. Louis native Max Scherzer was back in town pitching for the Nationals. 5 On Your Side's Frank Cusumano told Scherzer that Gibson had once said he thought Scherzer was even better than he was. The disbelief on Scherzer's face tells the story of Gibson's legacy.
Often imitated, never duplicated.
When Bob Gibson was staring you down on the mound, there was a good chance you were going to either end up back on the bench after he was done with you, or nursing a nasty bruise at first base if he determined you were standing too close to the plate.
If anyone has the mindset and determination to beat cancer, it's Gibby.
The current Cardinals voiced their support for the hall of famer this past weekend.
"It's unfortunate news, but we know he's a tough competitor and is going to fight like crazy," Manager Mike Shildt said. "Our thoughts and prayers are with him and his family. We're here for him."
"He's such a tough dude. He's the toughest man I know. Except Yadi. Yadi might be tougher. It's a tie," Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright said. "We're all praying for Mr. Gibson. He's so respected around here. He's one of the greatest pitchers of all time. He's a guy we look up to and try to carry on the Cardinal tradition around here because of guys like him and we wish him the best."
Gibson is slated to begin chemotherapy this week in his home city of Omaha. He'll not only have that legendary toughness to help him through it, he'll have all of Cardinals nation.
Cancer could be the newest recipient of a trademark Bob Gibson brushback.