Baseball Research Journal, Fall 2020

Josh Gibson Blazes a Trail: Homering in Big League Ballparks, 1930–1946

This article was written by Alan Cohen

This article was published in the Fall 2020 Baseball Research Journal


Josh missed immortality and a chance to endorse breakfast food by being born on the wrong side of the social structure.”
— Jimmy Powers, New York Daily News, 19371

Baseball Research Journal, Fall 2020

Josh Gibson was the most dominant power hitter in the Negro Leagues from 1930 through 1946. His production was so prodigious that his Hall of Fame plaque reads he had almost 800 home runs. Unfortunately, documentation is limited. Teams barnstormed across the country, playing wherever the bus stopped. Black newspapers, for the most part, appeared weekly and had details of relatively few games. White newspapers sometimes took notice, but the articles about games in rural areas were not particularly detailed. However, when the Negro League teams were given the opportunity to play in big league ballparks, the coverage in the media was more significant, and fans—both Black and White—saw that Josh Gibson was capable of homering anywhere and everywhere. Writers in mainstream newspapers from New York in the East to Chicago in the Midwest joined with Black mainstays such as the Pittsburgh Courier and Chicago Defender in lauding Gibson’s power.

Josh Gibson first set foot in a big-league park as an 18-year-old in 1930, as a member of the Homestead Grays. He played at Forbes Field and Yankee Stadium that year. Legend has it that one of his homers sailed out of Yankee Stadium in 1934 (or was it 1930 or perhaps sometime in the 1940s?) and that two of his homers cleared the back left field bleacher wall at Griffith Stadium. It was also asserted in the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported in an Associated Press release that, after he homered in Philadelphia’s Shibe Park on July 18, 1944, he had hit at least one home run in each of the ten big league ballparks in which he played up to that point in his career.2 Later, newspapers including the Washington Post and Philadelphia Inquirer would claim that he had homered in every big league ballpark in which he played.

How true are these legends? What is the real story?

Gibson’s records are incomplete as he played most of his games beyond the spotlight of the big-league arenas, and there was not a premium on keeping score beyond the tally of runs. In this article, Josh Gibson’s feats at big league ballparks will be documented and establish that he did homer at every big league park in which he played—all 16.

In the early years of his career, most games played in big-league cities were not contested in major league parks. Black owners staged games in other venues, whether because of the high rental fees or racism on the part of owners of the big-league ballparks. Also, during the early part of Gibson’s career, most big-league ballparks did not have lights, while Negro League games were often played at night. In New York, Dexter Park and Dyckman Oval were used for most Negro League games. In Pittsburgh, games were held at Greenlee Field. In Philadelphia, games were held at the 44th and Parkside Ballpark (also known as the Bolden Bowl).

American Giants Park

In Chicago, many games were held at the American Giants Park (previously known as South Side Park, Schlorling’s Park, and Cole’s Park) at the intersection of 39th Street and Wentworth Avenue. American Giants Park had been, two decades earlier, the home of the Chicago White Sox. The White Sox took up residence at South Side Park in 1900, when they moved from St. Paul, then moved to Comiskey Park in 1910. The Negro Chicago American Giants moved into the ballpark in 1911 and remained there through 1940. Gibson first played there in 1930 when the Grays defeated the Chicago American Giants in five of six games between September 5 and September 8. While with the Crawfords, he played there in 1932 and 1934. His best effort was on June 17, 1934, when he went 3-for-4 with a pair of doubles in the second game of a doubleheader.3

In 1937, Gibson homered at American Giants Park. On Sunday August 29, the Grays visited the American Giants and took both games. In the opener—won by the Grays, 4-2—Gibson homered on a 3-1 pitch in the sixth inning. The ball flew over the left field fence to give the Grays a 2-1 lead.4

Forbes Field and Yankee Stadium

Gibson’s professional career had begun in 1929 with the Pittsburgh Crawfords. The Crawfords would not be taken over by Gus Greenlee until 1931, and at the time Gibson played for them, they were not yet the powerhouse team that they would become. They played their home games at Ammon Field in Pittsburgh and went 63–11 against less-than-stellar opposition.5 On July 25, 1930, Gibson joined the Homestead Grays, the pre-eminent Negro team, and hit nine homers with them over the balance of the season, his first coming on August 22 at Akron in a 16–5 win over the Detroit Stars.6 (Not long after joining the Grays, tragedy stuck when Gibson’s wife died while giving birth to twins on August 20.7) Against the Baltimore Blacksox on September 13, he homered in each game of a doubleheader at Forbes Field.

He made his Yankee Stadium debut on September 21. His first two Yankee Stadium homers came in a Negro League World Series doubleheader on September 27. His first homer came in the third inning of a 9-8 first game loss. But his second homer in the Bronx that day was a truly memorable clout. It was a two-out three-run first inning homer off Connie Rector in the second game which traveled an estimated 460 feet to the bleachers in left-center field, and gave the Grays the lead as they went on to defeat the Lincoln Giants, 7-3, for their fifth win of the series.8 Per the Baltimore Afro-American, “it was the longest home run that has been hit at the Yankee Stadium by any player, white or colored, all season.”9 The next day, he went 1-for-4 in the second game as the Grays took that contest, 5-2, in a game halted by darkness after eight innings, to win the series six games to four.10,11

Gibson went on to hit seven homers during the 34 games he played at Yankee Stadium, none of which apparently went completely out of the stadium.

In 1940, the Scranton Tribune had scoffed at Ted Shayne’s assertion that Gibson had accomplished the feat. They received several letters in support of the claim, mentioning that the ball, presumably hit in 1930, had landed in the distant bleachers and bounced over the outer perimeter of the ballpark.12

One of his most-remembered home runs took place at Forbes Field on October 23, 1934, when the Crawfords barnstormed with the Dizzy Dean All Stars. After an interruption in the game—a bench-clearing brawl that even the fans joined in on—play resumed with Dean’s team leading, 3–1, but the Crawfords came back to win, 4–3. Their game-winning, two-out, eighth-inning rally featured a double by manager Oscar Charleston, a Gibson homer, a triple by Judy Johnson, and a single by Curtis Harris.13 Gibson’s homer, one of his longest, cleared the wall in left field.

Cleveland Stadium and League Park

Gibson joined the Pittsburgh Crawfords in 1932. Crawfords’ owner Gus Greenlee sent his squad barnstorming, making occasional stops at big-league ballparks. At the time, there were two major league ballparks in Cleveland—League Park and Cleveland Stadium. Gibson homered at each. In a doubleheader against the Cleveland Cubs on June 19, 1932, Gibson powered a homer out of Cleveland Stadium. The next year, at League Park on July 23, 1933, the Crawfords defeated the Chicago American Giants in a doubleheader. In the first game, Gibson had three hits—all singles—as the Crawfords won, 8–1. Chicago’s only run was a ninth-inning homer by Alex Radcliffe. The second game went to the Crawfords, 13–12, in 12 innings. Gibson tripled and homered in the game, bringing the total of big-league ballparks in which he homered to four.14 He was far from finished with his tour.

Ebbets Field

Gibson’s first appearances at Ebbets Field were in 1935 when the Crawfords visited the Brooklyn Eagles, owned by the husband-wife team of Abe and Effa Manley. They played on July 13–14, and a Gibson clout in the first game of a doubleheader on July 14 gave him homers in two of the three New York ballparks. Gibson started in three of the five games played by the Crawfords at Ebbets Field in 1935. In those games, he went a combined 7-for-12.

The Eagles moved to Newark after the 1935 season and over the next several years the Negro League baseball played in Brooklyn was between out-of-town teams. Most of the games were at Dexter Park but Ebbets Field was used on occasion. On September 6, 1942, the Homestead Grays played the Newark Eagles there. The Grays won, 4–2, and Gibson stroked his second Ebbets-Field homer.15

Borchert Field

Toward the end of the 1935 season, the Crawfords took off for a western swing that took them to Milwaukee’s Borchert Field, the longtime home of the minor league Brewers. Borchert Field was originally built in the late 19th century and had served as the home, at the end of the 1891 season, of the Brewers who joined the American Association for the final month of the league’s existence. Only 20 big-league games were played at Borchert Field. At Milwaukee, the Crawfords swept two games from the Chicago American Giants by respective scores of 17-2 and 8-3. Gibson’s Borchert field homer came in the 8-3 win on August 28.16

Oriole Park

At the end of the 1937 season, the Negro League World Series was held between the Grays and the Chicago American Giants. Ten games were played, and nine ballparks were used. On September 26, the teams split a doubleheader at Oriole Park in Baltimore. Although Baltimore was not a big league city in 1937 and would not host an American League game until 1954, Baltimore had been in the Federal League in 1914–15 and had used Oriole Park, then known as Terrapin Park, for its home games. Hence, when Gibson homered there in a 14-11 loss on September 26, he had added another big-league park to his list. For those counting, the list, with the additions of American Giants Park, Borchert Field, and Oriole Park, stood at nine at the end of 1937.

 

Josh Gibson is pictured with the Pittsburgh Crawfords in the mid-1930s. (NATIONAL BASEBALL HALL OF FAME LIBRARY)

Josh Gibson, pictured with the Pittsburgh Crawfords in the mid-1930s, hit a home run in all 15 big-league stadiums in which he played during his Hall of Fame career. (NATIONAL BASEBALL HALL OF FAME LIBRARY)

 

Griffith Stadium

Gibson’s first homer at Griffith Stadium came on June 28, 1931, in a 5-2 Grays’ win over Hilldale.17 Griffith Stadium was the proving ground that defined Gibson’s greatness as a home-run hitter. Witness his performance there eight years later, on July 16, 1939. As writer Sam Lacy said, “The first contest ended 8–7 in favor of the Grays, largely because of Gibson, and the nightcap concluded with a score of 6–5 in favor of the Stars in spite of Gibson.”18 In the bottom half of the ninth inning of the opener his second homer of the game broke a 7–7 tie and gave the Grays the win over the Philadelphia Stars. In the second game his second-inning homer left the stadium completely. He also tripled during the course of the doubleheader split with the Stars.19

After the 1939 season, Gibson left the Negro Leagues to play ball in Mexico, not returning to the Grays full-time until 1942. But he did appear with the Grays for one doubleheader at Griffith Stadium in 1940 and, to nobody’s great surprise, hit a home run. In the first game of a doubleheader on August 18, his two-run blast capped a five-run rally, and the Grays went on to win 6-4 over the Philadelphia Stars.20 By the time he returned to the Grays in 1942, the team was using Forbes Field for Saturday home games and Griffith Stadium for Sunday home games. Gibson had his only Griffith Stadium homer of the season on May 17 in a 6-5 loss to the Baltimore Elite Giants.

What Josh Gibson did at Griffith Stadium in 1943 boggles the mind. The reality of it all dwarfs the myth!

According to myth, Gibson had more homers at Griffith Stadium in 1943 than all of the visiting American League teams had, combined, against the Washington Nationals. So, again we ask about the real story. Although he did not quite hit more homers than the visiting teams, the story of the 1943 season is compelling.

In April 1943, not a single home run was hit at Griffith Stadium—by anyone, Black or White.

In a doubleheader against the Philadelphia Stars in May, he was prolific. In the opener, he singled and doubled in the first game win, and doubled, tripled, and homered in the second game as the Grays completed the sweep in DC. His homer was reported to have traveled 440 feet. On the day, he was 5-for-8. He scored four runs and drove in seven.21 And, on May 31, he was just showing off. The Grays demolished the Baltimore Elite Giants, 17-0. Gibson went 5-for-6 with two homers. The first one, a solo shot in the second inning, gave his team the lead. The second homer, a grand slam, put the icing on the cake in the seventh inning.22

Through the end of May, Gibson thus had three homers at Griffith Stadium. The entirety of the American League, in 18 games, had two, courtesy of Charlie Keller and Bobby Doerr.

Gibson was far from finished. On June 20 against the Kansas City Monarchs and Satchel Paige, Gibson unleashed even more fury. In the opener, he went 4-for-5 with a pair of doubles as the Grays won 10-2. They had blown Paige away with a five-run first inning. In the second game, Gibson went 2-for-4 with two more doubles as the Grays won 7-6.23

The Grays first played in Homestead, Pennsylvania in 1912 and still played many games each season in the Pittsburgh area. On June 23, 1943, at Forbes Field, Gibson hit another of his signature blasts. This one traveled an estimated 20 feet over the left field scoreboard and gave the Grays a 2-1 a first inning lead against the Kansas City Monarchs. The Grays went on to win 8-3 as Gibson hit his sixth homer in 10 games.24

As June ended, Gibson’s count at Griffith Stadium was five, as was that of the visiting American League teams. Rudy York had hit two homers for the Tigers and Elmer Valo had hit a homer for the Athletics.

Fireworks on the Fourth of July? Of course! On July 4, the Grays hosted the Newark Eagles at Griffith Stadium and swept the doubleheader by scores of 6-2 and 6-5. Gibson went 1-for-2 in the opener and then, in the seventh inning of the second game with his team trailing 5-4, slammed a 430-foot two-run homer with Buck Leonard aboard to give the Grays the 6-5 win. For the day, he was 3-for-4 with a triple and the homer in the second game.25

Over the next two days the Brooklyn Bushwicks visited the Grays at each of the Grays’ home fields. On July 5, the Grays took two games at Forbes Field by scores of 5-4 and 8-5. The first game went 12 innings, and the Grays’ winning run scored when pitcher Edsall Walker executed a perfect squeeze play scoring Howard Easterling.26 Gibson extended his newest hitting streak to eight games with hits in each game. Brooklyn’s first game pitcher, Bots Nekola, left the game after the tenth inning.27 Nekola had two brief tenures in the major leagues. He was in nine game with the 1929 Yankees and two games with the 1933 Detroit Tigers. After his playing days, he scouted for the Red Sox from 1949 through 1976.

The next evening, the Bushwicks traveled with the Grays to Griffith Stadium. The Bushwicks were a top semi-pro team and their lineup featured three men who played in the major leagues. In addition to Nekola, the Bushwicks had Al Cuccinello had played 54 games with the 1935 New York Giants, and Wally Holborow, a pitcher, who would pitch for the Washington Nationals, appearing in nine games at Griffith Stadium in 1945. Gibson did not let up. He tripled and homered as the Grays won 11-3.28

Through July 14, Gibson had seven homers at Griffith Stadium as opposed to five for the visiting American League teams. But then the Nationals had a long homestand during which the visiting clubs had four homers. At the end of July the American League’s visiting teams had two more homers than Gibson.

In August, when the Grays returned to Griffith Stadium, Gibson homered against Newark and Baltimore to bring the count in Washington to nine. But by then, the count for the visiting clubs was up to 11.

On August 21, 1943, at Forbes Field, Gibson had three hits including a triple in the first game 9-1 win over the Baltimore Elite Giants. In the second game, his two homers drove in all his team’s runs in a 4-1 win.29

On September 2 at Griffith Stadium, Gibson was honored and presented with a trophy.30

On September 12, 1943, he hit his 10th and final Griffith Stadium homer of the season. He fell four homers short of the number posted by the visiting American League teams. However, he did hit more than the Washington Nationals. They only had nine for the season in 76 games. Gibson’s came in only 38 games in Washington. To underscore his dominance as a home-run hitter that season at Griffith Stadium, only three homers were hit by Black players not named Josh Gibson. To underscore how difficult it was to hit home runs there, compare the nine homers the Senators hit at their home ballpark with their 38 on the road.

In 1945 Gibson once again had more homers at Griffith Stadium than the Nationals. He had five and the Nationals only had one, an inside-the-park homer by Joe Kuhel.

As far as some of Gibson’s homers traveled at Griffith Stadium, only the one on July 16, 1939 went beyond the rear wall.

The final home run of Gibson’s career was also hit at Griffith Stadium, on September 15, 1946. It came in the first game of a doubleheader against the New York Cubans. It was his 27th career homer at that ballpark. It is estimated that he played in 153 games there. His production (one homer per 5.67 games) is slightly less than that of Babe Ruth, who had 34 homers in 171 games (one per 5.03 games) at that ballpark.

Of those players with at least 20 homers at Griffith Stadium, the player with the best home run frequency was Rocky Colavito. He had 24 homers in 57 games (one per 2.375 games). The second-most-frequent slugger at Griffith Stadium was Mickey Mantle. He had 29 homers in 98 games (one per 3.38 games).

Here is what other noted sluggers did at Griffith Stadium.

Wrigley Field

Gibson got to display his talents at Chicago’s Wrigley Field on August 29, 1943. The Grays played the Kansas City Monarchs. In the first inning, against former teammate Satchel Paige, he hit a three-run homer to give his team the early lead. He also doubled, singled twice, and walked as the Crawfords went on to win, 10-4.31

Polo Grounds

On July 25, 1943, the Grays took on the Philadelphia Stars in the second game of a doubleheader at the Polo Grounds in New York. The Grays won 14-4, as Buck Leonard, Edsall Walker, and Gibson keyed their attack with homers.32 For Gibson, it was his first homer at the Polo Grounds. He would go on to homer another three times at the ballpark in Harlem.

Two of those homers came in one game in 1944, He hit two homers on July 16. The game was halted by rain in the ninth inning. The game had been tied, 6–6, after eight innings, and the Grays, with Gibson hitting a triple, had scored three runs in the ninth when the rains came. The score reverted to 6–6, and the ninth inning rally was washed away.33

Shibe Park

Two days after his multi-homer day at the Polo Grounds, Gibson hit a three-run homer that traveled 405 feet in an 11-4 win over the Baltimore Elite Giants in the first game of a doubleheader at Philadelphia’s Shibe Park. His first ever Shibe Park blast came in the first inning as the Grays scored five times.34

Comiskey Park

Although Gibson’s hitting performance was prodigious in several appearances, it would take Gibson a bit of time to add Chicago’s Comiskey Park to his list. Negro Baseball’s East-West All Star game was contested at Comiskey Park beginning in 1933, and although Gibson batted .483 (14-for-29) in 9 East-West appearances in the Windy City, he did not have a home run. In the 1935 East-West Game, Gibson had four hits in his first five at-bats and came to the plate in the 11th inning with Cool Papa Bell on second base. There were two outs at the time. The opposition wanted no part of Gibson, and he was intentionally walked, setting the stage for a game-winning homer by Mule Suttles.35 Chicago’s Negro American League team, the Chicago American Giants, played games at Comiskey Park beginning in 1941. On August 13, 1944, in the East-West Game, and Gibson’s long, seventh-inning double in front of 46,247 fans was not enough to offset a big five-run fifth inning by the West squad. The West won the game, 7–4. It was not until July 21, 1946, that Gibson finally connected for a homer at Comiskey. In front of an estimated 10,000 fans, he homered in the sixth inning of the second game of a doubleheader. His three-run shot highlighted a four-run inning that erased a Chicago American Giants’ 3-0 lead and propelled the Homestead Grays to a 9-7 win.36

Briggs Stadium

Gibson did not get the opportunity to play in Detroit’s Briggs Stadium until 1945. Although Detroit fielded Negro League teams in the early part of Gibson’s career, it was not until 1941 that the Grays played at Briggs Stadium. That season, Gibson was in Mexico. They returned to Briggs Stadium for a doubleheader in 1945. On June 3, the Grays shut out the Baltimore Elite Giants by scores of 1–0 and 5–0. Gibson’s double keyed a ninth-inning rally that produced the only run in the opener. In the second game, he homered to add Briggs Stadium to his remarkable list.37

Sportsman’s Park

Gibson got only one opportunity to play at Sportsman’s Park in St. Louis, as for most of his career, St. Louis did not have a team in the Negro Leagues. The St. Louis Stars, when they were in the Negro Leagues, did not play at Sportsman’s Park. A Negro team had first appeared at Sportsman’s Park after the 1921 season when a barnstorming group of St. Louis Cardinals played four games against the St. Louis Colored Giants. The first Negro League game at Sportsman’s Park took place on July 4, 1941, when the Chicago American Giants played the Kansas City Monarchs.38 Gibson finally played at the ballpark on July 9, 1946, in a doubleheader between the Homestead Grays and the Cleveland Buckeyes. The crowd of 19,774 sat through a rain delay in the third inning of the first game. At the time there was no score. But the Grays won the first game 12–2, with Gibson going 4-for-5. The second game did not start until 11:20 PM and they were only able to play two and one-half innings before the midnight curfew. The Grays scored nine runs in their two times at bat, three coming on a homer by Gibson, Although the game, not having gone five innings, was not technically official, Gibson’s homer was very much real.39

Other Major League Parks

Gibson did not play in Boston. The Massachusetts city was not in the Negro Leagues, although the Boston Royal Giants did play in the Negro minor leagues. There is no hard evidence that the Royal Giants played at Braves Field or Fenway Park. There is no record of their playing against either the Grays or Crawfords. Gibson’s barnstorming travels with the Grays and Crawfords never took him beyond Hartford, Connecticut when his teams played in New England. On May 26, 1944, the Grays played at Fenway Park, defeating Fore River, 1-0. Gibson did not play. His replacement, Robert Gaston, drove in the only run of the game with a sixth-inning single off the wall in left field.40

In Philadelphia, he often played at Shibe Park, but never appeared at the Baker Bowl.

Crosley Field

Only one major-league park remains. Did he ever homer at Cincinnati’s Crosley Field?

Gibson’s first appearance in Cincinnati was on August 23, 1933, and the game with Chicago was held at Crosley Field, then known as Redland Field. He went 1-for-4 as the Crawfords lost to Chicago, 6–2, but did not homer. Following the first East-West Game at Comiskey Park in 1933, the teams traveled to Redland Field for a rematch on September 14. Unfortunately, the game was rained out. Documentation of Gibson’s appearances in Cincinnati is elusive. During his time with the Crawfords, and later with the Grays, Cincinnati was not regularly represented in the Negro Leagues, and there is a significant question as to whether or not Gibson homered at Crosley Field.

There is strong anecdotal evidence that he homered there. Chester Washington of the Pittsburgh Courier declared in 1941 that Gibson had hit the longest home run at Cincinnati’s Crosley Field.41 Barnstorming was not as commonplace during the 1930s as it had been during the prior decade, but there were still tours that crisscrossed the country each October. In 1939, during an interview, Leo Durocher remembered an encounter at Crosley Field:

About two years ago, I played against Josh Gibson in Cincinnati and found that everything they say about him is true, and then some. In that game in Cincinnati, Josh hit one of the longest balls I’ve ever seen. Josh caught hold of one of Monte Weaver’s fast ones, and I’ll bet you it’s still sailing. Boy, how he could hit that ball!42

How good was Durocher’s recall? Further research indicates that, after the 1933 season, the Crawfords barnstormed with Jimmy Shevlin’s All-Stars, a team that, indeed, included Leo Durocher.43 As for the specific game in which Durocher saw a Gibson homer, probably on October 15, 1933, there is little in the way of detail. One thing known is that the homer did not come off Monte Weaver who was, at the time of the game at Crosley Field, toiling in the World Series for the Washington Senators. It likely came off Jim Weaver. On October 15, 1933, the Crawfords were scheduled to play Shevlin’s team at Crosley Field.44 Two days before, the Crawfords had taken on the Homestead Grays. The Grays defeated the Crawfords, 9-345, but the details of the game also are not known. Did Gibson homer on either October 13 or October 15? That will require more research.

Conclusion

When Gibson added Sportsman’s Park and Comiskey Park to his list in 1946, Jackie Robinson was playing for Montreal. Gibson would not live to see the first Black man play in the big leagues in the twentieth century. Gibson died on January 20, 1947. The travels of Josh Gibson forge a path of great achievement, but during his lifetime he was not as well-known as contemporary major league sluggers. At the Hall of Fame Induction ceremony in 1966, Ted Williams urged the Hall of Fame to open its doors to Negro League ballplayers. Gibson’s greatness was acknowledged with his induction into the Hall of Fame in 1972. On July 6, 2000, a stamp with Gibson’s image was issued by the United States Postal Service as part of its Legends of Baseball series.

ALAN COHEN has been a SABR member since 2010, and his first Baseball Research Journal article appeared in 2013. He serves as Vice President-Treasurer of the Connecticut Smoky Joe Wood Chapter and is datacaster (MiLB First Pitch stringer) for the Hartford Yard Goats, the Double-A affiliate of the Colorado Rockies. His biographies, game stories and essays have appeared in more than 40 SABR publications. Alan has contributed stories on Black baseball to several SABR books and has continued to expand his research into the Hearst Sandlot Classic (1946–65) from which 88 players advanced to the major leagues. He has four children and eight grandchildren and resides in Connecticut with wife Frances, their cats Morty, Ava, and Zoe, and their dog Buddy.

 

Cover art

SABR Baseball Research Journal cover illustration by Gary Cieradkowski. Click here to learn more about the process behind Gary’s cover design.

 

Sources

In addition to the sources shown in the notes, the author used Baseball-Reference.com, Seamheads.com, and the following:

Burick, Si. “Si-ings: Time (Magazine) Points Out ,” Josh Gibson of Homestead Grays as One of Greatest Sluggers of Pastime,” Dayton Daily News, July 21, 1943: 12.

Jones, Lucius Melancholy. “Sports Slants,” Atlanta Daily World, August 16, 1942: 8.

Snyder, Brad. “Black Baseball’s Return Caught On,” Detroit Free Press, March 21, 2008: 4E.

Washington, Chester. “Sez Ches,” Pittsburgh Courier, February 22, 1941: 16.

 

Notes

1 Jimmy Powers, “The Powerhouse,” New York Daily News, September 18, 1937: 27.

2 “Grays Jar Giants; Tie Stars, 4-4,” Philadelphia Inquirer, July 19, 1944: 24.

3 Al Monroe, “Giants Drop Crawfords from Lead,” Chicago Defender, June 23, 1934: 17.

4 “Giants Drop 2 to Grays: Gibson Stars,” Chicago Defender, September 4, 1937: 19.

5 William Forsythe, Jr., “Jolly’s Jottings,” Pittsburgh Courier, August 31, 1929.

6 “Grays Defeat Stars by 16-5,” Akron Beacon Journal, August 23, 1930: 16.

7 “Wife of Homestead Gray Catcher Dies,” Pittsburgh Courier, August 23, 1930: 4, and “Helen Gibson,” Baltimore Afro-American, August 30, 1930: 18.

8 W. Rollo Wilson, “Grays Win Eastern World Series,” Pittsburgh Courier, October 4, 1930: 2-5; and “We Confess that the Fast Grays are Real,” New York Amsterdam News, October 1, 1930: 12.

9 “Giants Drop Championship,” Baltimore Afro-American, October 4, 1930: 15.

10 “Lincolns Split; Grays Capture Colored Title,” New York Daily News, September 29, 1930: 38; and “Poor Support Given Holland Kept Lincoln Giants from Going into a Tie with Homestead grays Last Sunday,” New York Amsterdam News, October 1, 1930: 12.

11 Gibson also homered at Philadelphia’s Bigler Field as the Grays won the fifth game of the series, 11–3. As described in the Philadelphia Tribune, Gibson “clouted the longest home-run ever seen at Bigler Field, the ball clearing the leftfield fence and even the roofs across Bigler Street.”; “Rivals Divide Double Bill Here; Grays Win 11-3, Lincolns on Top 6 to 4,” Philadelphia Tribune, October 2, 1930: 10.

12 Bob Considine, “On the Line,” Scranton Tribune, August 9, 1940: 15.

13 Balinger.

14 “Crawfords Trip Colored Rivals,” Cleveland Plain Dealer, July 24, 1933: 17.

15 William E. Clark, “Grays Clinch Pennant in Final Series with Eagles,” New York Age, September 12, 1942: 11.

16 “Crawfords Defeat Giants Again, 8-3,” Wisconsin State Journal (Madison, Wisconsin), August 29, 1935: Part 2, 1.

17 “Hilldale Series Thrills; Grays Set for Balto.,” Pittsburgh Courier, July 4, 1931: A5-A6

18 Sam Lacy, “Josh Gibson Clouts 3 Homers as Grays Divide,” Baltimore Afro-American, July 22, 1939: 22.

19 “Grays’ Catcher Hits 3 Homers; Team Takes 2,” Washington Post, July 17, 1939: 14.

20 “Homestead Grays Take Doubleheader,” Washington Post, August 19, 1940: 18.

21 “Grays Defeat Stars, 9-3, 8-2,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, May 24, 1943: 16, and “Homestead Grays Knock off Philadelphia Stars in Two Tilts,” New York Amsterdam News, May 29, 1943: 15.

22 “Josh Gibson’s Homers Help Grays Win,” Washington Post, June 1, 1943: 15.

23 Harold Jackson, “Grays Take Two from Monarchs,” Baltimore Afro-American, June 26, 1943: 23.

24 Paul Kurtz, “Gibson’s Bat Spurs Grays to 8-3 Win,” Pittsburgh Press, June 24, 1943: 24, and Al Abrams, “10,350 See Grays Defeat Monarchs in Night Game,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, June 24, 1943: 15.

25 “Grays Twice Victors over Newark Nine,” Washington Post, July 5, 1943: 11.

26 “Grays Win Twice, 5-4, 8-5,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, July 6, 1943: 15.

27 “Bushwicks Set for Cubans After Road Trip,” Brooklyn Daily Eagle, July 6, 1943: 14.

28 “Grays’ Blasts Beat Bushwick Here by 11 to 3,” Washington Post, July 7, 1943: 16.

29 “Gibson Stars as Grays Win,” Pittsburgh Sun-Telegraph, August 22, 1943: 2-3.

30 “Grays Murder Ball to Win 5 Over Weekend: To Honor Josh Gibson, Home Run King, at Stadium,” New Journal and Guide (Norfolk, Virginia), August 28, 1943: B19.

31 “Paige Shelled off Hill as Grays Win,” Chicago Sun, August 30, 1943: 17.

32 “Bounce Homers All Over Polo Grounds Battle,” New York Amsterdam News, July 31, 1943: 14.

33 “Cubans Tie Grays, 6-6,” New York Times, July 17, 1944: 10, and “Cubans, Grays Tie, 6-6; Rains Cancels Twin Bill,” New York Age, July 22, 1944: 11..

34 “Grays Jar Giants; Tie Stars, 4-4,” Philadelphia Inquirer, July 19, 1944: 24.

35 “East-West Game Draws 25,000 Fans—West Wins,” Chicago World, August 10, 1935: 7.

36 “Homestead Nine Wins Two from Negro Giants,” Chicago Tribune, July 22, 1946: 26.

37 “Grays Win Pair,” Pittsburgh Sun Telegraph, June 4, 1945:14.

38 “19,178 Fans See Negro Twin Bill,” St. Louis Globe Democrat, July 5, 1941: 9.

39 John Hagar, “Grays Pound Bracken, Beat Buckeyes, 12-2,” St. Louis Star-Times, July 10, 1946: 21.

40 “Homestead Grays Take Fore River,” Boston Globe, May 27, 1944: Sports-2.

41 Chester Washington, “Says Ches,” Pittsburgh Courier, February 21, 1941: 16.

42 Wendell Smith, “Brooklyn Dodgers Admit Negro Players Rate Place in Majors,” Pittsburgh Courier, August 5, 1939: 16.

43 Following the initial publication of this story in the Fall 2020 Baseball Research Journal, the author received correspondence from SABR member Richard Bogovich. The presence of Durocher on the Shevlin team in 1933 was noted in articles in the Cincinnati Enquirer on October 1, 1933 and October 5, 1933. The Crawfords also barnstormed in Cincinnati in 1934. No details of games in Cincinnati are available.

44 “Curtains for Baseball,” Cincinnati Enquirer, October 15, 1933: 33.

45 “Grays Bump Crawfords,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, October 14, 1933: 16.

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