On April 15, 1959, Bob Gibson played in his first major league game, coming in as a relief pitcher for the Cardinals as they trailed the Dodgers 3–0. Gibson gave up a home run to the very first batter he faced—an ignominy suffered by only 65 pitchers in the history of the game.1 In the next inning, Gibson gave up another home run. Gibson got a chance to redeem himself coming in as a relief pitcher the next evening, but again was hit hard by the Dodgers. Two nights later, Gibson was brought in against the Giants with two outs and two runners on in the eighth inning and promptly gave up a double. After that game, Gibson sat on the bench for a week, and then was sent back to the minors. It is hard to imagine a more demoralizing beginning.
Despite his dismal start, Gibson ultimately went on to become one of the best pitchers in baseball history. He is widely considered among the top 20 pitchers of all time. Gibson played 17 seasons in the majors, winning 251 games, with 3,117 strikeouts and a 2.91 earned run average (ERA). In 1968, he posted an unbelievably low 1.12 ERA—the lowest such figure since 1914. He won two Cy Young awards, twice was named as the World Series most valuable player (MVP), played on nine All-Star teams, and was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility.