Joe Torre fondly remembers his first visit to Omaha.
On May 19, 1961, Torre was a 20-year-old minor league catcher in the Milwaukee Braves farm system.
That afternoon, the Braves called up Torre to the majors. One problem: “They couldn’t find me.”
Torre had found his way to the Ak-Sar-Ben racetrack. When he lost all his money and returned to the hotel, he learned he’d been promoted.
He caught a plane late that night, missed a connection and wound up getting to Cincinnati too late for Saturday’s game. Sunday, though, he caught a doubleheader.
He went 3-for-8 that day and never played another minor-league game.
Pace of play never a problem with Gibson
One of baseball critics’ biggest complaints is pace of play. That wasn’t a problem with Bob Gibson.
He was proud of his stuff, Torre said. He just grabbed it and threw it. Gibson gave up an unusually high percentage of his home runs on 0-2 counts. That’s because he didn’t believe in wasting pitches.
His pace resembled Greg Maddux, Torre said. Pitching coaches are accustomed to giving signs from the dugout — step off the rubber, throw over to first, hold the ball.
“Maddux, you had to stop doing that because he got in such a rhythm.”
Gibson could do more than just pitch
Gibson could do more than just pitch. Torre marveled at his range of skills.
He could play guitar. He could fix a TV set. Gibson once helped build a dark room for Torre’s girlfriend, who was a photographer. “Hammer and nails,” Torre said. “They went at it, man.”
Gibson definitely isn’t one to sit around.
“Although,” Torre said, “he will watch soap operas on a regular routine. That was one of the things he had to do was watch soap operas in the afternoon.”