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Norwood Ringold Gibson was born on March 11, 1877, in Peoria, Illinois to Nathaniel and Josephine Kuhn Gibson. His father worked for the City of Peoria as a surveyor and was a civil engineer. Both parents migrated to Illinois from Pennsylvania after marriage as Nathaniel was 16 years older than Josephine. Norwood was the middle child of five with Earl and Leigh born before him and Herschel and Louisa as younger siblings. He attended Greeley School for his first eight years of education in Peoria and then attended Notre Dame Prep School. He went to college in South Bend, Indiana at Nore Dame University and received a degree in chemistry,
He began playing baseball in earnest at Notre Dame as a pitcher. “Gibby”. as he was called, was a 5′ 10″ 165 lbs. at best. He led the Fighting Irish to the national championship in 1900 with an 8-1 record. It is from there he was signed by the Cincinnati Reds to play professionally. He played in several minor league contests (some called them exhibition games) during his first summer and was later released in August. He signed on to play for the Kansas City Blues from August 19 to September 7 where he was 2-4 in 62 innings.
In 1902, he signed across town to hurl for the Kansas City Blue Stockings who was managed by Kid Nichols (who would later become a big-time manager and future Hall of Famer). He got the needed notice as he threw two no-hitters. Nichols recommended him to the major league and he signed a contract for $3000.
He made his major league debut on April 29, 1903, while a member of the Boston Beaneaters. He was part of the pitching rotation that included Cy Young, Long Tom Hughs, Bill Dineen, George Winter, and Nick Altrock. In his rookie year, he sported a 13-9 record and a 3.19 ERA with 76 strikeouts. Boston went on to win the World Series but the manager only started three pitchers and Gibson did not play but received a ring. In 1904, he won 17 games in 270 innings and a healthy 2. ERA. He pitched with arm issues in 1905 and 1906 and was medically forced to retire with his last game on May 18, 1906.
Looking at his career numbers finds Gibson posted a 34–32 record with 258 strikeouts and a 2.93 ERA in 85 appearances, including 72 starts, 56 complete games, three shutouts, 12 games finished, and 609.0 innings of work.
After baseball, he took a job as a chemist for the Curtiss Candy Company in Peoria. It is there that the Baby Ruth candy bar appeared in 1921. Later, he moved back home to Peoria and became a desk clerk for the New National Hotel. In 1940, at age 63, when he married Mildred Platt. She died seven years later.
He died at age 82 in Peoria, Illinois on July 7, 1989, and is buried in Springdale Cemetery.
Central Illinois has had many major league baseball players in history. Let’s look at them from the 12 counties that we have selected to become Central Illinois. (Logan, McLean, DeWitt, Woodford, Fulton, Peoria, Mason, Tazewell, Cass, Morgan, Menard, Sangamon).