with opening day major League Baseball Upon us, there’s no better time to remember the heroes of baseball’s bygone era. Such nostalgia should extend not only to past eras of MLB but also to those in the Negro leagues that paved the way for players of color to make their way into the majors. is one of those influential names of the past josh gibson,
The greatest slugger of all time is viewed in the Negro leagues as one of the best power hitters of his era. Gibson played in the Negro leagues and in independent baseball from 1930–1946. almost hitting 800 home runs, By current MLB standards, Gibson will certainly be one of the greatest players to ever play the game.
Sean Gibson is Josh’s great-grandson and serves as its executive director. Josh Gibson Foundation. He spoke with Deadspin about his great-grandfather’s legacy, the Josh Gibson Foundation, and the importance of remembering the contributions of those who played in the Negro leagues before blacks and other players of color playing alongside their white counterparts. was allowed.
“My grandfather, Josh Gibson Jr., actually started the foundation. And the whole mission, originally behind the foundation, was really to preserve his father’s legacy,” explains Gibson. “And he came up with a way of using these tools to help fund education, after-school programs, athletic programs for inner-city youth by helping raise money in the name of Josh Gibson. So, I’m proud of the Foundation’s existence.” I’ve been with it since I came in, and I’ve been executive director ever since.”
There is much to be learned from the history and memory of the Negro leagues, and Shawn and the Foundation are doing their part in sharing this rich legacy, particularly in the Pittsburgh area. The Josh Gibson Foundation offers several educational, mentorship and even an internship program for the community.
In December 2020In 2010, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred announced that the Negro Leagues would be recognized by MLB and would be included in Major League Baseball’s historical record book. This meant that the 3,400 players who joined the Negro leagues from 1920–48 would have the same achievements and statistics as all major leaguers. The announcement by Manfred was significant, but follow-up on the plan has been less than encouraging.
Big changes still need to be made
“Major League Baseball official bookkeeping records are through Elias. If you go to Elias’ website, you won’t see any Negro league baseball players included in their record books. Now, baseball reference, who have no affiliation with MLB, of course, have their records updated with Negro league statistics. But at the moment, almost three years later, the announcement was made and since then nothing has happened.
Obviously, with an announcement of that magnitude, you would expect that the Josh Gibson Foundation would have a better or more involved relationship with MLB, which has not been the case. Sean hopes to repair that relationship with MLB and the commissioner’s office, and he has an upcoming meeting with MLB in mid-April.
,We have a little relationship with Major League Baseball, we call it. Of course, we would like to see more included. We work with Pat Courtney out of the commissioner’s office. They’ve supported some of our programs, some of our events, things like that.
,But the meeting I’m about to have is also dealing with how they can partner with not only the Josh Gibson Foundation, but we just created and started Negro league family coalition, And what’s more, there are many descendants of former baseball players who come together to be one voice. And so, one of our main initiatives is that we want to have a day called Negro League Day. We understand we have a Jackie Robinson Day, and we like that. But we want to have a day where we can celebrate all Negro league baseball players throughout Major League Baseball. And we would like it to happen on the 2nd of May. And that’s because May 2, 1920, was the first Negro league game.,
,So, we’d like to talk to them about that as well, and maybe a few things about licensing and more about how we can be an official partner of Major League Baseball that we’re not an official partner. It is our goal to be the Official Partner of Major League Baseball.,
In news that may come as a surprise to casual fans, the Josh Gibson Foundation and the Negro Leagues Family Alliance have no affiliation with the Negro Leagues Museum. Sean and his group have pushed for it, with little progress in that mission for years.
Lack of connection with the Negro Leagues Museum
“You asked, how is the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum not involved? Well, you’ll have to ask Bob Kendrick about that. We’ve contacted Bob Kendrick several times,” said Sean. “We talked to Bob at least two or three times. The last time we talked to Bob was in August or maybe later, he was supposed to get back to us… but he never came back.
“So, you know me personally, and I’m not speaking for the coalition. I’m speaking as Josh Gibson’s family,” Shawn continued. “We don’t feel like the museum wants to work with us or work with the Alliance. Like I said, I’m not speaking for the group; I’m speaking for myself, the Josh Gibson family. And, You know, there have been many opportunities that the museum could have worked with us, but nothing ever happened. But to answer the why, I can speculate why, rather I’ve heard you the facts. It’s something That’s one you’ll have to ask Bob Kendrick about.”
bob kendrick is the president of the Negro League Baseball Museum (NLBM), a position he has held since 2011. The museum was established in 1990 to celebrate and preserve the history of African American baseball and its positive impact on social development in America. Deadspin reached out to Kendrick for comment, and he told us the following:
“Neither Shawn nor his family have ever approached the museum about a specific relationship or partnership opportunity. They have never once picked up the phone to call me about any initiatives. I have met with the Family Alliance on several occasions NLBM continues to create licensing opportunities for his family as well as those affiliated with the Alliance. He sought a non-binding formal relationship, and I am not sure that this is the right time for us to support the mission of the Family Alliance. But it’s something we’re still exploring in terms of structure. Not sure why Sean is spewing such venom, with the exception that if the NLBM doesn’t do what it thinks we should, then we are at fault.
NLBM is committed to doing everything possible to increase recognition for this history, which benefits the Family Alliance and many other families that are not part of the Alliance.
family still waiting
In remembering and honoring these Negro league veterans, Gibson always acknowledged and paid tribute as he made sure to give a shout-out to some players represented by family members belonging to the Alliance. Rube Foster, who, as Shawn puts it, is the “father of Negro league baseball”. Walter”Buck“Leonard, Ted”double duty“Radcliffe, Norman Thomas”turkeyStearns and Pete Hill, to name a few. Gibson and Leonard were known as the “Thunder Twins” for their power-hitting skills while playing for the Homestead Grays. Currently, there is a beer Campaign is running in his honor, with proceeds going to Gibson and Leonard’s foundation. These legends helped lay the foundation that made it possible for Jackie Robinson to do what he did in 1947 with the Dodgers in crossing the color line.
Once Negro league players and their statistics officially become a part of MLB, Gibson knows there will be a lot of conversation about their inclusion because many of the players are ranked among the top baseball statistical categories, including Shawn’s great-grandfather. will be placed on
,I mean, it’s been a while. So, you know, like I said, I’m hoping that it’s done soon where we can actually have a conversation, because, you know, once that happens, there’s going to be a lot of conversation. Because these are going to be players in some of the higher categories of Negro league baseball. I mean, Josh, he’ll be in some of the top categories and statistics, he’ll be in the top five there, top two. Not just Josh, other players too. So, trust me, you’ll know when it comes out.,
While the official integration of Negro league statistics into Major League Baseball’s record books is still on the horizon, it is not only Major League Baseball’s duty to remember the men who came before, but its fans as well.