Josh Gibson: The African-American Babe Ruth Print E-mail
Written by Liz Banks   
Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Josh GibbsonJoshua Gibson, one of the finest baseball players in history, was a catcher in the Negro Leagues. He represented the Homestead Grays between 1930 and 1931 before moving to Pittsburgh Crawfords, where he played between 1932 and 1936. He then returned to Homestead for two different stints between 1937 and 1939, and 1942 and 1946. During 1937, he featured in the Dominican League for Dragones de Ciudad Trujillo. Between 1940 and 1941, he represented Rojos del Aguila de Veracruz in the Mexican League.

A good number of Baseball historians say that Gibson was the best catcher they had ever seen. In addition, he was also one of the finest power hitters in baseball history. In 1972, Gibson was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Popularly called the "Black Babe Ruth", historians suggest that there were many fans during the time who referred to Ruth as the "White Josh Gibson" given Gibson's style of play and impact on the game. Despite having never featured in MLB due to unwritten policy which kept non-whites from the league, Gibson established his credentials in some style.

Josh GibsonLegacy

Larry Doby, the player who helped abolish the colour barrier in baseball, held Gibson in high regard. When Josh was signing for a team in the minor league in 1945 (Brooklyn Dodgers), Doby stated that it was disheartening and disappointing to many black players that they were not allowed to play in the major leagues. He said that Josh Gibson was the best player during his time on the baseball park. He also believes that Josh died early (aged 35) because he was "heartbroken".

Gibson became only the second player behind Satchel Paige to find a place in the Baseball Hall of Fame given his magnificent career in the Negro Leagues. The plaque on his Hall of Fame says "almost 800", revealing his contributions to the game. Gibson was subject to plenty more attention in the latter half of the 20th Century. The United States Postal Service honoured the player by issuing a 33-cent postage stamp with the name and a painting of Gibson.

Josh GibsonHonors

The Sporting News released a list of the hundred Greatest Baseball Players in 2000. Gibson was ranked eighteenth on the list – the best among the five players who have played the entirety of their careers in the Negro Leagues. Oscar Charleston, Cool Papa Bell, Buck Leonard and Satchel Paige were the other players who spent most or all their time in the Negro Leagues. In 2000, Gibson was also nominated to the MLB All-Century Team.

One of the most prominent honors to have been bestowed on Gibson includes a statue of him erected inside the Nationals Park. That apart, Gibson also has a field named in his honor. The Ammon Field on Bedford Avenue in Pennsylvania is now called the Josh Gibson Field as Pittsburgh considers the player as an historical figure for his contributions. Josh Gibson's son, Junior, also played represented the Homestead Grays and helped in creating the Josh Gibson Foundation.





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