Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Homes Runs From A Different Era

This is Day 17 of the 20 Days of Chill writing challenge hosted by P. J. at A ‘lil HooHaa. Today's prompt is Home Run. Please visit the other participants for more stories.

I will admit that I have never been to a baseball game, and I haven't watched a game on TV in years. As mentioned in Baseball and Hotdogs, I used to watch or listen to the Red Sox back in the 70s, and while there are a number of ways to score a run in baseball, there is nothing more exciting than a home run, unless it is a grand slam home run.

When you recall the names of some of the heavy hitters, you think of Babe Ruth (714), Hank Aaron (755), Barry Bonds (762), and for the Red Sox fans, Carl Yastrzemski (452), some of whom have been inducted into the National Baseball Hall of fame.

These are just some of a much longer list of players who's talent for hitting homes is well known.

However, there is a name that is not on that list, only because he played in the days before blacks were allowed in the major league. That name is Josh Gibson. One source states he supposedly hit around 962 home runs during his career, but statistics in the negro league were not accurately kept, so the world will never know how great some of those players really were.

Some statistics from Gibson's career:

In 1933, he hit .457 with 55 homers in 137 games against all competition (They commonly played outside their league).

In 1934, he hit 69 home runs against all competition and 11 homers in 52 league games.

His Hall of Fame plaque states he hit 'almost 800 home runs' during his career.

Statistics vary and his career batting average was reportedly anywhere from .350 to.384, the highest in the negro leagues.

He was born in 1911 and began playing in 1930 at age 18, and continued until 1946.

He died from a stroke in 1947 at the age of 35. His death came just three months before Jackie Robinson became the first black player in the major league.

Sources: List of Major League Baseball career home run leaders and Josh Gibson

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  1. Josh Gibson is an incredible story. Many have wondered how it would have been if he hadn't died as he probably had some years left in him -- to see if he would have played in the majors after Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier.

    A lot of his big-number seasons have been questions in recent research because the traveling games were often against inferior teams, but he was still an amazing talent from everything I've read. It's a shame he never got to show it in the majors.

    1. Hi P.J., I figured you would have an appreciation for this post. I was at a loss as to what to write and just started poking around Google. These challenges do provide lots of opportunity to learn things.

  2. Hi Linda - that's great to have Josh Gibson given credence here and to let us know some details - he was obviously very talented ... sad that black men and women in general were so kept down. It's fascinating when we can learn something about obscure talent and how much they'd have contributed to society .. cheers Hilary

    1. Hi Hilary, We have come a long way, and it is indeed a shame that such talented individuals could not play in the majors. The changes came too late for him.

  3. I am not a huge baseball fan but I try to get to a few games each season because the Kansas City Royals are great for our community and do a lot to support public causes here. I wasn't familiar with Josh Gibson, as I don't know a great deal about the history of baseball. But a couple of years ago, I did manage to go downtown here to the Negro Baseball Hall of Fame. The museum isn't far from the field that the KC Monarch played back in the 1920s and 1930s. Jackie Robinson, Satchel Paige and Buck O'Neil are very recognized names here for having played on the team. It was a really an interesting time for baseball. The curator said that in the 30's, everyone would leave church on Sunday and form a parade to the baseball field to watch the Monarchs play. I agree with you, Linda, such a shame that their talents weren't fully appreciated in a time of a segregated society.

    1. That's interesting about people leaving church and going to the ballgame. I guess it was quite an event, especially since they didn't have the technology we do today. They actually got out and did stuff. After church we just go to lunch.


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