Bryce (Harper from Ted Williams)
Gibson's Stadium Blasts Josh Gibson's Famous Yankee Stadium Home Run
POSEY, HARPER, AND
A GUY NAMED GIBSON
By John B Holway
Buster Posey had a great season, batting a league-leading .336, with 24 homers. Darned good, especially for a catcher.
How about .364 with 45 homers? Josh Gibson did it for the old Washington Homested Grays. That's lifetime! (The home runs are adjusted to a typical major league season of 550 at bats.)
Bryce Harper had a great rookie year, hitting 22 homers as a 19 year-old. At the same age, Gibson blasted them at a rate of 35 per 550 at bats. The year before, he smashed one within two feet of going out of Yankee Stadium.
Josh Gibson was Babe Ruth and Ty Cobb rolled into one. He leads the Negro Legues in both liftetime batting and homers.
I saw Josh back in 1945 in a game against Satchel Paige in old Griffith Stadium in Washington, maybe the last man alive to have seen these two titans of baseball history. The old park was packed with 38,000 fans. I remember standing at the railing beside the dugout with a gaggle of other kids to watch Satch warm up - he slung the ball sidearm. Across the field Gibson was warming up his own pitcher, and tossing his head back to laugh at something that struck his funny bone.
Satch pitched two or three innings, and the only other things I can remember were that Josh did not hit a home run, and Buck Leonard played first. A rookie named Jackie Robinson probably played shortstop, but his name wouldn't have meant anything to me.
For the last 30 years of my life, I've been chronicling both their careers, hunting for every home run and victory I can find. I published my first totals 22 years ago in the old Macmillan Encyclopedia, and those numbers are long out of date now. The quest is still going on, and others - the Hall of Fame and Baseball Reference - have joined in the search. I've urged them to join forces to be sure we find every game we can, but so far they have turned me down.
They're making good progress, and eventually they'll catch up. I'm also adding to my totals. At the moment the results are:
AB HR BA
Baseball Reference ....1825....107.... .350
1990 Macmillan ........ 1679....146 .... .362
Holway...................... 3072 ...249 ......364
For Paige the numbers are:
Baseball Reference ......100..... 50
1990 Macmillan ..........124 ......80
Holway .......................157 .... 95
Keep in mind that the Negro leagues played 40 to 100 games a year.
I feel that the fans - and Josh and Satch - both deserve best possible stats we can find. In the following data, where Baseball Reference's totals are higher than mine, I use theirs high-lighted in purple.
(C) 2012 John B Holway
John Holway is author of "Josh Gibson," and "Josh and Satch."