December 21, 1911, in
Buena Vista, Georgia
Full Name: Joshua Gibson
Nick Names: The "Black Babe Ruth"
Positions Played: C, OF, 3B, 1B
Primary Position: Catcher
Teams Played For:
Pittsburgh Crawfords (1932-1936), Homestead Grays (1929-'31, '37-'40, '42-'46) Santo Domingo ('37), Mexican League ('40-'41)
Elected to Major League Baseball Hall of Fame in 1972.
Won 9 home-run titles and four batting championships playing for the Crawfords and the Homestead Grays.
The greatest power hitter in black baseball, Josh Gibson led the Negro National League in home runs for 10 consecutive years; credited with 75 home runs in 1931. He utilized a fluid, compact swing to hit for both average (.373 lifetime average) and power pounding out home runs with regularity despite playing most of his career in two of baseball's most cavernous ballparks: Forbes Field and Griffith Stadium.
In two seasons in the late 1930s, he hit higher than .400 with a slugging percentage above 1.000. In recorded at-bats against big league pitching, Gibson batted .426. He was so powerful that one year, he hit 84 home runs!
Belting home runs of more than 500 feet was not unusual for Gibson. One homer in Monessen, Pa., reportedly was measured at 575 feet. The Sporting News of June 3, 1967 credits Gibson with a home run in a Negro League game at Yankee Stadium that struck two feet from the top of the wall circling the center field bleachers, about 580 feet from home plate. Chicago American Giants infielder Jack Marshall said Gibson slugged one over the third deck next to the left field bullpen in 1934 for the only fair ball hit out of the House That Ruth Built.
After winning a championship for the Grays in 1931, he joined the Pittsburgh Crawfords. He continued his awesome power hitting with the Crawfords, until he jumped to Santo Domingo along with Satchel Paige. In 1938, Gibson returned to the Homestead Grays, and he teamed with Buck Leonard to form a fearful duo. He helped the Grays win two more Negro League championships in 1938 and 1939.
Gibson never received the opportunity to show his stuff in the major leagues because he was an African-American. He died at the age of 35 in early 1947, three months before Jackie Robinson made his historic major-league debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers.
"He hits the ball a mile."
— Hall of Famer Walter Johnson, the Washington Senators pitcher who won 416 games, said of Gibson
“Josh Gibson was the greatest hitter who ever lived,"
—Satchel Paige, Gibson's teammate on the Pittsburgh Crawfords
Did You Know...
That Josh Gibson got his start with Homestead of the Negro National League in July of 1930 when he came out of the stands to replace the Grays' injured catcher?
Hall of Fame
Hall of Fame Teammates: Satchel Paige, Buck Leonard