Written by Jim Rednour   
Saturday, 02 January 2010

Some Credit Josh Gibson With Hitting Ball Out Of Yankee Stadium

While several players, including Mickey Mantle and Babe Ruth are credited with hitting gargantuan blasts that NEARLY left the confines of old Yankee Stadium…only one man, Josh Gibson, is said to have hit a fair fly ball that completely cleared the rooftops of the “House That Ruth Built” but never fully conquered. 

Affectionately known as “The Basher” for his incredible power at the plate, Gibson is said to have accomplished the ultimate long ball feat in 1930 at the tender age of 18 while playing for the Homestead Grays of the Negro Leagues.   With the Grays leading four games to two in a best-of-11-championship series against the New York Lincoln Giants, the teams traveled to New York for two doubleheaders at Yankee Stadium.

On Sept. 27, Gibson hit what biographer John Holway describes as "perhaps the longest home run ever hit in the House that Ruth Built."  But how far did it really travel?  According to the Amsterdam News: “Gibson's blast outdistanced any other hit at Yankee Stadium "by any player, white or colored, all season."  And the Pittsburgh Courier said it was the longest hit in Yankee Stadium that season.

Gibson biographer John Holway interviewed several players there that day and concluded, "We can assume that the ball probably did not go over the roof but instead went over the corner of the third tier of upper-deck seats.”

That's not the end of the story, though. The Chicago American Giants' Jack Marshall claimed that Gibson hit one out of Yankee Stadium in 1934 against the Philadelphia Stars. Holway tracked down this story, too. Apparently, this home run came against the New York Black Yankees rather than the Stars, and two Yankees did remember the blast. But both men saw the ball land in the left-field bleachers beyond the bullpen (which in those days was a long, long way from the plate).

It seems likely that if Gibson really had hit the ball completely out of the ballpark, somebody at the time would have written about it, or Gibson would have later bragged about it. But it also seems likely that Gibson's 1930 home run (and perhaps the 1934 homer) ranks as one of the longest ever hit at Yankee Stadium, along with a famous homer by Mickey Mantle in 1963 that came within a few inches of leaving the stadium well beyond right field (see Mantle’s 734 feet Homer).

Teammate Buck Leonard later said, "Nobody hit the ball as far as Gibson. I didn't see the one he is supposed to have hit out of Yankee Stadium. But I saw him hit a ball one night in the Polo Grounds that went between the upper deck and lower deck and out of the stadium. Later the night watchman came in and asked, 'Who hit the damn ball out there?' He said it landed on the El. It must have gone 600 feet."

Now that’s what we call bashing the ball!

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