Written by Jim Rednour   
Monday, 31 August 2009

Josh Gibson, the man that many regard as the greatest Negro League player ever, was born on December 21, 1911, in Buena Vista, Georgia. He relocated to southwestern Pennsylvania in 1924 after his father found work in a Pittsburgh area steel mill.

After playing for the Gimbel Brothers and Westinghouse Airbrake company teams, Josh began catching for the Pittsburgh Crawfords in 1927. With the addition of Gibson, the Crawfords rose to the top of the city's sandlot teams and challenged Cumberland Posey's Homestead Grays, a stellar club of Black professional baseball players from across the nation.

In 1930, Posey persuaded Gibson to join the Grays at mid-season. The Homestead Grays won Black Baseball's Championship that year, with “Josh The Basher” hitting what might have been the first ball over the centerfield fence in Forbes Field, as well as, a prodigious blast that some say went completely out of Yankee Stadium.

During Gibson's career, he played ball with Hall of Famers Oscar Charlston, Cool Papa Bell, Judy Johnson, and Satchel Paige.  The Homestead Grays 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)

Due to sporadic statistical accounting in the Negro Leagues, reports vary regarding the number of home runs Josh Gibson hit, with some estimates as high as 962.

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.!Technorati!Newsvine!Blogmarks!Yahoo!