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Gibson's back, happy to be Cardinal again

Bob Gibson has spent the past 10 years lamenting the fact that he couldn't get a job in baseball.

"What I specifically have to deal with," Gibson wrote in his new book, Stranger to the Game, "is the fact that baseball seems to want nothing to do with me because A) I'm a black man, B) I have an attitude, or C) I'm a black man with an attitude. I'll take a wild stab at C . . ."

But last week, his old team, the St. Louis Cardinals, and his old friend, Joe Torre, brought him back to the game.

The Cardinals hired Gibson, 58, as bullpen coach and assistant to Torre. "It was always in the back of my mind that I would be a Cardinal again, somehow," Gibson said last week. "If there was one person who could get me to do it, it was Joe Torre."

Gibson, who won 251 games during a Hall-of-Fame career with the Cards, will assist new pitching coach Mark Riggins. "I don't have the kind of ego where I need to be called pitching coach," Gibson said. He is looking forward to working with the pitchers again, something he did in 1981-84 when Torre managed in New York and Atlanta.

Gibson was making a decent living back home in Omaha, Neb., running a few businesses, doing endorsements and making appearances at card shows and old-timers games.

But the man who was known for his intensity and competitiveness as a player sounds eager to bring the same effort to coaching. When he called his wife, Wendy, with word of the Cardinals' offer, she told him to go ahead. "It took me about three minutes," Gibson said.

Marlins update: No one knows, of course, when baseball will get back to normal, but the Marlins are making big plans. "We're in a situation where we'll try to sign a quality starting pitcher," GM Dave Dombrowski said. "We know it will cost some money but we feel it's a necessity for us. Someone who can go out there every fifth day and be that No. 1 person." Some names immediately mentioned include Jack McDowell, Kevin Brown, Kenny Rogers, Tom Gordon, Jim Abbott and Bill Swift. If the free-agency rules are changed, Andy Benes is another possibility. "Our goal is to find a No. 1 who would be a No. 1 on other staffs," Dombrowski said. It also looks as if the Marlins will seek to sign a third baseman and keep Jeff Conine in the outfield. There are no plans to move Gary Sheffield back to the infield.

Boss Cubs: New Cubs manager Jim Riggleman is sitting at home in Redington Shores plotting his first season. His coaching staff is almost complete (including his Pinellas County buddies Dave Bialas and Dan Radison) and he is studying reports from last year. Riggleman couldn't be happier to exchange the uncertainty of San Diego, where new ownership hadn't decided whether to rehire him, for the new management and old tradition of Chicago.

"I feel bad leaving the situation in San Diego because I felt good about the direction we were going in," Riggleman said. "But I had no choice really. I couldn't get left out without a contract. I'm really fortunate. I think I'm going to the ideal city in baseball. I really feel fortunate as hell."

Riggleman, 41, is excited by the possibilities in Chicago and promises not to be distracted by the high-profile nature of the job. "I'm looking forward to the whole experience _ Wrigley Field, day games, the city itself," he said. "But all of that is secondary to managing. I love managing. From (Class A) St. Petersburg to (Double-A) Little Rock to Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, to (Triple-A) Las Vegas to San Diego and now to Chicago. I love it."

Strike men: As the strike drags on, some players are getting a little antsy. Florida SS Kurt Abbott, a St. Petersburg product, said he may get a job with UPS or pressure-cleaning. "There comes a time when you have to start making some money somehow," said Abbott, who lost about one-third of his major-league minimum $109,000 salary. Pittsburgh pitchers Paul Wagner and Rick White are working $10-an-hour construction jobs. "Tell everybody that if they need two handymen, they can call Paul and Rick," Wagner said.

Miscellany: Don't be surprised if Dave Stewart, 37, returns to Oakland for one more season. "I can say he's interested and the A's are interested," said Tony Attanacio, Stewart's agent. The percentage of saves converted successfully in 1994 was .665, the fourth straight year the total has declined. Organizers of a new league, the United League, will announce their plans at a news conference Tuesday.

Information from other news organizations was used in this report.