Any discussion of the greatest home run hitters of all-time would be woefully incomplete without the inclusion of Josh “The Basher” Gibson.
While his Cooperstown plaque says Gibson hit "almost 800" homers during his 17-year career against Negro League and independent baseball opponents., long-ball pundits place his career total as high as 962. Unfortunately, due to sporadic statistical accounting in the Negro Leagues, these numbers are difficult to verify. But no matter who you ask, everyone agrees on one thing…Josh
Gibson really knew how to “bash” a baseball.
Widely regarded as the greatest Negro League hitter ever, Gibson, is a hero among his contemporaries including Barry Bonds, who referred to "Josh Gibson's 800 home runs" in his post-game press conference after hitting his 756th MLB home run.
Gibson, nicknamed the "Black Babe Ruth," blasted his way into history as a member of the Negro League's Pittsburgh Crawfords and Homestead Grays, despite the fact that he possessed a lithe 6'1, 215 lbs. frame, which was far from imposing. He was so powerful that he reportedly hammered out 84 homers in one season and during a notable trip to Yankee Stadium thumped a baseball into the far reaches of the upper deck.
But Gibson didn’t just hit for power he also hit for consistency; maintaining an astounding lifetime batting average of .359 (according to the Baseball Hall of Fame). He was also a leader on the diamond, raising the standard of play for his Homestead Grays teammates and leading them to victory time-after-time. During Gibson's career the team won an unprecedented nine consecutive Negro National League pennants with Gibson behind the plate, and he was named the Negro National League MVP 1940 (see picture of ceremony below)
During his career, Gibson never played on a losing team. Moreover, it was rumored that Pittsburgh Pirates owner Bill Bensawanger signed Josh to a Major League contract in 1943, a full four years before Jackie Robinson entered the league, but Major League Baseball Commissioner Kennesaw Landis allegedly would not allow Gibson to play.
Josh Gibson died suddenly on January 20, 1947, from a massive stroke. Gibson is considered to be the eternal monarch of home run kings. He dominated the game with majestic power like none before him. Former Crawfords teammate Judy Johnson boasted, "If Josh Gibson had been in the Big Leagues in his prime, Babe Ruth and Hank Aaron would still be chasing him for the home run record.”