Bob Gibson received a hero's welcome when he returned to Omaha 57 years ago today after being triumphant in the World Series.
A parade wound through downtown to the courthouse, where Mayor James Dworak proclaimed Oct. 16, 1964, to be "Bob Gibson Day" and gave Gibson a key to the city.
Real warmth marked the welcome at Eppley Airfield for the Tech High and Creighton University alumnus from the moment he stepped off the chartered flight from St. Louis. A group of Tech students presented Gibson with a huge Trojan pin that he wore throughout the parade and the ensuing courthouse ceremonies.
Bouquets of 31 roses — one for each of Gibson's record number of Series strikeouts — were presented to Gibson's wife, Charline, and his mother, Victoria Bolden, as they stepped off the plane. Also on hand were his two daughters, his stepfather, Paul Bolden, and his brother, Josh Gibson.
Speakers at the courthouse ceremonies included Principal Carl Palmquist of Tech High and the Very Rev. H.W. Linn, S.J., president of Creighton. Harry Dolphin, Creighton University public relations director, served as master of ceremonies. Dolphin mentioned Gibson's 20-point-plus basketball average at Creighton in a three-season career that concluded in 1956-57.
As the parade left downtown, it proceeded north along 24th Street past Kellom School, where Gibson was once a student. Children from every school along North 24th Street between downtown and Ames Avenue, where the parade turned east back to the airport, lined the streets.
The children along the route held up signs they had made with such messages as "Kellom School is Proud of You!" and "Welcome Home, Champ!"
In helping the St. Louis Cardinals win the 1964 World Series and being named series MVP, Gibson set a World Series strikeout record of 31, won two games, showed a commendable 3.00 earned run average for 27 innings and turned in the greatest fielding play of the seven-game showdown.
The city stopped that afternoon — for just a couple of hours — and united around a native son.