Josh Gibson (1911-1947) spent his entire baseball career in the Negro Leagues. His powerful hits made him one of black baseball’s biggest attractions, and the length of his homers was legendary. Gibson was often called the “Babe Ruth of the Negro Leagues.”
A native of Buena Vista, Georgia, Gibson made his baseball debut with the Homestead Grays in 1930 when he was 18 years old. He filled in for the team’s starting catcher, who was injured. The six-foot-one-inch, 215-pound Gibson earned the nickname “Boxer.”
In 1932, Gibson began playing for the Pittsburgh Crawfords. As a member of the Crawfords, Gibson teamed up with pitcher Satchel Paige. Gibson returned to the Grays in 1937. During the winter, he played in Mexico, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic.
Josh Gibson posted the Negro League’s highest batting average twice. His 1943 average of .517 was the second highest in its history. He also led the league in home runs nine times. Officially, Gibson’s home run count stands at 137. But his at-bats during his three best seasons, 1942, 1943, and 1946, were never recorded. For those years, he is credited with hitting 30 homers, making his unofficial career total 167. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1972.