By Joseph G. Phillips, Sports Editor
Chicago Crusader Newspaper
Known as the “Black Babe Ruth” and one of the greatest home run hitters in baseball history, the name of catcher Josh Gibson, formerly of the Homestead Grays of the Negro Leagues and several other teams, is now being considered to replace former Major League Baseball commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis on the League’s MVP trophy.
“You quoted Mr. Gibson as the black Babe Ruth,” said Gibson’s grandson Sean L. Gibson, executive director of the Josh Gibson Foundation. “But Mr. Gibson referred to Babe Ruth as the white Josh Gibson. The Baseball Writers Association of America are scheduled to meet in December during the baseball Winter Meetings in Dallas, Texas and hopefully a decision would be made at that time.”
According to the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, the group will look to remove Landis’ name from its MVP trophies due to his controversial racial past as Major League Baseball’s first commissioner.
The group said a number of past MLB MVP winners and others in the game are showing great support for this initiative, including former MVP and Cincinnati Reds star Barry Larkin, who told the Associated Press that he is aware of Landis’ name and “what that meant to slowing the color line in Major League Baseball.”
Those who have been suggested to replace Landis include Hall of Famers Branch Rickey, Frank Robinson, and the legendary Josh Gibson — the best power hitter in the game, hitting almost 800 home runs in his career.
Gibson, who stood 6-foot-1 and 210 pounds as a player, is considered by baseball historians as one of the very best power hitters and catchers in the history of any league, including Major League Baseball (MLB).
Gibson played his baseball career for the Homestead Grays from 1930 to 1931, moved to the Pittsburg Crawfords from 1932 to 1936, and returned to the Grays again from 1937 to 1939 and 1942 to 1946. In 1937, Gibson played for the Ciudad Trujillo in Trujillo’s Dominican League and from 1940 to 1941, played in the Mexican League for Rojos del Aguila de Veracruz.
Gibson served as the first manager of the Santurce Crabbers, one of the most historic franchises of the Puerto Rico Baseball League.
Over a 17-year career for the Homestead Grays and Pittsburgh Crawfords, Gibson established himself as one of the greatest power hitters in the history of baseball. Gibson never played in the major leagues because of the unwritten “gentleman’s agreement” that prevented non-white players from participating.
Gibson’s hitting and power were second to none and, coupled with his catching, he helped lead his teams to multiple first-place finishes. A 1972 Hall of Fame inductee, Gibson was the second Negro Leaguer after Satchel Paige to earn this honor.