Josh Gibson
Smithsonian photographs, Anacostia Community Museum (free use)

When people associate home runs in the first half of the 20th century, most think of that one man. That big dude who played for that New York team who looked like an oversized baby. Also known as one of the sport’s first heartthrobs. But at the same time, there was someone better. Much better. And he never got the opportunity to prove himself on baseball’s highest stage due to our county’s racism. Josh Gibson was this person.

In honor of Black History Month, it’s more than vital to observe a remembrance for players these Negro League players. It’s unfortunate that these players aren’t regular household names. Say what you will about Jackie Robinson or Roy Campanella. Josh Gibson is the greatest player to come out of the Negro Leagues and arguably the greatest player in baseball history.

Statistically speaking, there is a lot of speculation and myth. A lot of sportswriters and fans alike speculate Gibson hit over 800 home runs. If you go on baseball-reference, they list Gibson hitting 113 career home runs with the Homestead Grays and Pittsburgh Crawfords. The reason is the lack of statistics from the all year round playing time in the Caribbean and expedition play. As expected, there are disputes. Interestingly enough, on baseball-reference, it mentions he never played a full season. It’s impossible to tell, as his season-high in any league remains at 33 as a member of the Mexican League. Add up his numbers across all leagues he was a member of and you still don’t get anything near 800.

Despite power numbers not being documented to their fullest, there is still overwhelming evidence that Gibson was an outstanding hitter. In the Negro Leagues, people believe he holds an outstanding career .345 batting average and 1.013 On-base plus slugging.

Statistics aside, there is currently the Josh Gibson Foundation ran by Gibson’s great-grandson, Sean. It was originally created by Gibson’s son, Josh Gibson Jr in an attempt for recognition for his father. The family has been running it for the last 50-60 years.

Gibson’s family also strives to rename the Major League’s MVP award after him. This is coming off the removal of Kenesaw Mountain Landis, who denied black players from playing in the Majors, in a push this last summer by former MVP black players.

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