From Mary Ann McGann at NJ.com on March 17, 2014:
Whether truth or legend, or a little bit of both, there’s a story repeated among lovers of baseball history about Babe Ruth and a Negro League catcher named Josh Gibson, who, like Ruth, was a power-hitting phenomenon.
“They used to call Josh Gibson the black Babe Ruth,” says Brian LoPinto of Clifton. “A reporter once asked Babe Ruth, ‘You know they’re saying that Josh Gibson is the black you. How do you feel about that?’ And Ruth goes, ‘No, I’m the white Josh Gibson.’ ”
Negro League statistics were notoriously unreliable at the time. However, Ruth’s plaque at the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown lists “714 home runs in addition to fifteen in World Series,” while Gibson’s Hall of Fame tribute cites “almost 800 home runs in league and independent baseball during his 17-year career.”
But this is not about which Hall of Famer hit the most career home runs. It’s about a decades-old effort by LoPinto and others to save Hinchliffe Stadium, a crumbling relic in Paterson that, in its heyday, bore witness to Gibson’s triumphs and those of many other Negro League greats, including Roy Campanella, Monte Irvin and Larry Doby.
Originally published: March 18, 2014. Last Updated: March 18, 2014.