Laurila: Q&A with Pete LaCock on Bob Gibson (and Japan)

From SABR member David Laurila at FanGraphs on January 3, 2013:

Pete LaCock is a good storyteller. The former first baseman is prone to embellishment — Retrosheet doesn’t see eye-to-eye to with some of his recollections — but his tales are certainly entertaining. The son of long-time Hollywood Squares host Peter Marshall, LaCock played for the Chicago Cubs (1972-1976), for the Kansas City Royals (1977-1980) and for the Yokohama Taiyo Whales, in Japan (1981).


LaCock on battling Bob Gibson:

Billy Williams had broken his ankle, so the team was looking for a left-handed hitter. I had been hitting the ball pretty well, so they brought me up from Double-A. I was 19 years old. The game was in Chicago, and Bob Gibson was pitching for the Cardinals.

“It was 3-2, bottom of the ninth, and we had runners on second and third with two outs. Our pitcher was due up and Don Kessinger was the next hitter. He wasn’t a very good left-handed hitter — he was a better right-handed hitter — and Gibson had already struck him out a few times.

“I figured they were going to walk me. My run didn’t mean anything and putting me on meant they could get an out an any base. They had a meeting on the mound and somebody said, ‘Does anybody know this guy?’ Gibson said, ‘If they’re bringing in a rookie, I’m pitching to him.’ Ted Simmons was the catcher, and he told me this. When he comes back behind the plate, he goes, ‘They’re going to pitch to you, kid.’ I said, ‘Great.’ 

“First pitch, base hit, game over. I’m out there giving high fives.

“About three weeks later we go to St. Louis.

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Originally published: January 4, 2013. Last Updated: January 4, 2013.