Thursday, January 20, 2022

Gibson, Star Catcher, 'Ruth' of Negro Game, Stroke Victim at 35 -- January 20, 2022

Washington Evening Star, 21-January-1922

Josh Gibson, the great Negro Leagues slugger who never got to play in the major leagues because of the color line, died of a stroke 75 years ago today, on 20-January-1947. He was 35 years old.
Gibson, Star Catcher,
'Ruth' of Negro Game,
Stroke Victim at 35

The booming bat of Josh Gibson, famed Negro slugger who was rated by Hans Wagner as one of the greatest natural hitters in baseball history, has been silenced. The home-run king of the Negro National Baseball League and a crack catcher with the Washington Homestead Grays since 1938, died of a stroke at Pittsburgh on Sunday at the home of his mother.

Often called the Babe Ruth of colored baseball, Gibson several years ago was rated by Clark Griffith, president of the Nats, as worth $100,000 to any major league club. A right-handed hitter, he threw out opposing runners from a kneeling position and led the Negro National League in batting with a .393 mark in 1945.

Gibson broke into Negro professional baseball at the age of 13 with the Pittsburgh North Side Red Sox in 1927. He started playing with the Grays in 1930, later switched to the Pittsburgh Crawfords and rejoined the Grays in 1936.

Frequently a battery mate of the veteran Satchel Paige, noted Negro pitcher, Gibson blasted four home runs in a game against the Memphis Red Sox at Zanesville, Ohio, in 1936. He was a familiar figure to Negro fans at Griffith Stadium and smashed some of the longest hits ever to clear Forbes Field fences at Pittsburgh.

Thirty-five years old, Gibson played baseball throughout the year, traveling to Mexico, Cuba, Canada and South America, and was voted the most valuable player in the Mexican Winter League in 1942. Gibson is survived by his wife, two children, a sister and a brother.

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