Josh Gibson Centennial Educational Tour will stop at Edinboro University April 10
Honoring the legendary Negro Leagues slugger04/05/2012
EDINBORO, Pa. – Baseball historians consider Josh Gibson to be among the greatest catchers and power hitters ever to play the game in any league, including the “Majors.” But Gibson, elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1972, never played Major League baseball because of an unwritten rule excluding non-whites during his lifetime.
To honor Gibson’s life of accomplishments, the Josh Gibson Foundation has been traveling the nation and sharing his story as part of the year-long Josh Gibson Centennial Educational Tour. Locally, to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Gibson’s December 21, 1911 birth, the star of the former Negro Leagues will be publicly recognized when the Foundation’s tour stops at Edinboro University on Tuesday, April 10, for a 6 p.m. presentation in the Frank G. Pogue Student Center’s Multipurpose Room.
The celebration will include first-hand narratives told by Sean L. Gibson, great-grandson of Josh Gibson, as well as discussions with former Negro League Players Ted Toles and Pedro Sierra.
The Negro Leagues were professional baseball leagues comprised of teams of predominantly African-American players who were not eligible to play in the Major Leagues solely because of their color. Seven leagues comprised the overall movement, including the Negro National League, Eastern Colored League and the Negro American League. The leagues were started in 1920 because of the refusal of Major League organized baseball to admit African-American athletes. Because of eventual integration of the “Majors” in the late 1940s, the Negro Leagues ended soon after.
Gibson was a catcher and power hitter in the Negro League, playing for the Homestead Grays as well as the Pittsburgh Crawfords from 1930 through 1946. He died in January of 1947, the same year that Jackie Robinson would break the “color barrier” as the first Africa-American in the Major Leagues.
Known at the time of his playing days as the “black Babe Ruth,” Gibson’s batting average was .461 during his rookie year. His hitting that year was considered a key factor in the Grays’ win over New York’s Lincoln Giants in the playoffs for the Eastern Division championship. Overall, Gibson’s lifetime batting average was an astounding .359, while his slugging percentage was .648.
To honor his legacy and achievements and his role in American history, family members created the Josh Gibson Foundation in 1994. The Foundation’s goal is to “provide the type of access that Josh Gibson never enjoyed with the creation of facilities and baseball fields dedicated to the youth of the Pittsburgh community.”
Edinboro University is proud to host the April 10 event in honor of Gibson. The presentation is free and open to the public.
For more information about the Josh Gibson Foundation, visit www.joshgibson.org.