Seven people were newly inducted into the Nebraska Baseball Hall of Fame Sunday night.
The annual banquet was held at Country Cookin’ Restaurant, which is also the home of the Nebraska Baseball Hall of Fame.
The biggest name to be inducted was National Baseball Hall of Fame member Bob Gibson.
Gibson, an Omaha native, had previously been held out of the Nebraska Hall of Fame because officials had been unable to find records of him ever playing amateur baseball in Nebraska – a requirement to be inducted into the Nebraska Hall of Fame.
Recent anecdotal testimony, though, indicated he played some semi-pro baseball in the Nebraska-Iowa regions, which paved the way for him to be inducted.
Gibson had a 17 year career with the St. Louis Cardinals, which included a season in which he had an ERA of 1.12. He had 13 shutouts and struck out 17 batters in Game 1 of the 1968 World Series. He had nine Gold Glove awards, 26 consecutive quality starts, 251 career wins, over 3,150 strikeouts, a nine time all star and a two time Cy Young winner.
Gibson was not in attendance for his induction Sunday night, but Nebraska Baseball Hall of Fame board member Ron Douglas detailed the kind of pitcher Gibson was, calling him possibly the most intimidating player ever to play.
“He considered anybody he played against his enemy,” Douglas said.
Douglas told a story about how the last person Gibson ever faced in the major leagues hit a grand slam off of him. Years later, in an old timers game, Gibson faced that same hitter and drilled him with a pitch.
“He didn’t forget about that home run,” Douglas said.
Douglas also talked about how Gibson hated when players dug into the batter’s box before their at bats. One player was warned about this, but he declared he wasn’t going to be intimidated by Gibson and he proceeded to call time out so he could dig into the batter’s box.
“Gibson stepped off the mound and told the batter that he better dig a little deeper because that’s where they’re going to have to bury him,” Douglas said.
Gibson missed with the first pitch, but was able to drill him with the second pitch.
Douglas wrapped up by telling about Gibson’s record breaking 17 strikeouts in the World Series. The performance even solicited a “Holy Cow” from the late legendary baseball play-by-play man Harry Caray.
Other’s that were inducted into the hall of fame Sunday night included Tim Carrol, a Colorado native who played college baseball at Nebraska. He was signed to a pro contract with the Chicago Cubs by the famed Buck O’Neal and he later played pro baseball in the Chicago White Sox organization.
Carrol played several seasons with the Beatrice Bruins during his time in Nebraska.
An automobile accident took Carrol’s life eight years ago. His daughter, Tania Carrolll, was in attendance to accept the award in his honor.
Paul Meyers was also inducted into the hall of fame on Sunday. He was a lifetime .350 hitter for Nebraska and still ranks among the school leaders in career home runs, RBI’s and total bases and hits. He once knocked in 10 runs in a game, which is a record that has since been tied by current Nebraska coach Darin Erstad.
Meyers played for five years in the San Francisco Giants Minor League system.
Other inductees included Fairbury native Virgil Richardson as well as Stromsburg native Vance Toline. Umpire Jeff Graver was also inducted and Bill Larson received the distinguished service award for his contributions to baseball in the state of Nebraska.
After a silent auction was held for several pieces of memorabilia, the night was wrapped up with a group singing of the baseball classic “Take me out to the ballgame.”