He was known as the black Babe Ruth, and some consider him baseball’s all-time home run king.
Josh Gibson was born in Buena Vista, Georgia, in 1911 and moved to Pittsburgh in the 1920s. He dropped out of trade school to play semi-professional baseball, and in 1930 joined the professional Negro Leagues, playing for the Homestead Grays and the Pittsburgh Crawfords.
Gibson became known for his towering home runs. His prodigious power helped the Grays win nine consecutive Negro National League Championships. Precise records of Gibson’s accomplishments on the field don’t exist and are much disputed, but baseball historians believe he had a career batting average of .347, hit an astonishing 84 home runs in 1936, and over the course of his career slammed nearly 800 home runs. His average against white major leaguers in exhibition games was over .400.
Gibson died in 1947 at age 36, just months before Jackie Robinson broke major league baseball’s color barrier.
Josh Gibson, the man known as the greatest player who never played in the major leagues, was born in Georgia on December 21, 1911, Today in Georgia History.
Today in Georgia History is a joint collaboration of the Georgia Historical Society & Georgia Public Broadcasting.