Bobby Tolan on Bob Gibson: ‘We didn’t play around when he was out there’

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Bobby Tolan on getting the 1968 St. Louis Cardinals back together: "This is the last time we're going to see these guys, because none of us were around the next time the Cardinals won the pennant or went to the Series. We've got to cherish this moment as much as we can."

- All right, Scotty. Thanks a lot. A chance to catch up with Bobby Tolan, a member of that 1968 team. When you think back to that season, what stands out about it for you? There were a lot of great things that happened. What sticks out for you?

- Well, obviously watching Gibson pitch that whole year and not giving up hardly any runs, and--

HOST: I mean, barely any.

- Right. And knowing that we were going to go back to the World Series again, I mean, it was just great. You know, my first full two seasons, the '67 and '68 teams, and we're going to the World Series. So it was a special moment for me.

HOST: Bob Gibson was as dominant as any pitcher has ever been that season. When you watched him, what were your thoughts?

BOBBY TOLAN: That I hope I never got traded.


HOST: Which did happen.

- Right. Because, I mean, he was really menacing out there. He took the job obviously very serious. And we respected that, and we didn't play around when he was out there. We just needed to get him one run, and that was pretty much all they needed.

HOST: What was he like as a teammate?

- He was awesome. You know, he joked a lot. A lot of people don't know, he had a good sense of humor too. And he helped me, you know. Obviously, when I joined the team in spring training, him, Brock, and Flood, they took me under their wings and kind of showed me the ropes. So I mean, I got to know him pretty well.

HOST: Watching Lou Brock had to be pretty special too.

- Well, Lou was my roommate, so we worked a lot on spring training about stealing bases. I mean, obviously, he knew about stealing bases, but he passed it on to me. And--

HOST: How much-- because you ended up leading the league in stolen bases-- how much did he help you?

- Well, during spring training we were-- one of the things that we would do is, we watch the pitcher, but we would take off our cap. And our cap had little bitty eyelets in, and we'd peek through the eyelet and on the certain part of the pitcher's body to see if his heel raised up, which means he was coming to first base. If it was flat, he was throwing at home. We'd watch and see where the pitcher would set his hands. If he set them up high, or set them up low, we knew pretty much that he was coming to first or going home. And it also helped us knowing what pitches were being thrown too. So we were stealing signs at the same time.

HOST: You got to see some of these guys for the '67 reunion. I know some of the guys are just arriving now. But what's it like getting the band back together?

BOBBY TOLAN: It's awesome. I mean, '67 was great. '68, this was the last time we were going to see these guys, because none of us, I think, were around the next time the Cardinals won the pendent or went to the series. So we got to cherish this moment as much as we can.

HOST: Well, it's great catching up with you. Have a great time. I'm sure you will.

- I will. I appreciate you.

- All right, guys. Bobby Tolan.