A Brief History
On January 20, 1947, only 3 months before Jackie Robinson broke the “color barrier” and became the first African American major league baseball player, the famous catcher and slugger from the Negro Leagues of baseball, Josh Gibson, died at the young age of 35 of a stroke brought on by a brain tumor.
Gibson is now recognized by Major League Baseball as having had the highest single season batting average of all time, .466 in 1943. As of 2020, MLB recognizes Negro League statistics as belonging in “major league” category. Gibson also slugged about 800 home runs at all levels of baseball, making him the probable all time career home run hitter as well. His career batting average in the Negro Leagues was .374, topping the record of Ty Cobb who hit .366.
Gibson, often called the “black Babe Ruth,” had his Hall of Fame career cut short by a brain tumor first discovered in 1943. Who knows how spectacular his statistics may have been had he not suffered a career shortening illness.
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For more information, please see…
Brashler, William. Josh Gibson: A Life in the Negro Leagues. Ivan R. Dee, 2000.
Golus, Carrie. Josh Gibson. Twenty-First Century Books, 2010.
The featured image in this article, an original team photograph of the 1943 Homestead Grays, is in the public domain in the United States because it was published in the United States between 1927 and 1977, inclusive, without a copyright notice. For further explanation, see Commons:Hirtle chart as well as a detailed definition of “publication” for public art.
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