Joshua Gibson, Jr.
Positions: 3b, 2b
Teams: minor leagues (1948), Homestead Grays (1949-1950), Canadian League (1951)
Height: 5' 10'' Weight: 170
Born: August 11, 1930, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
The son of the greatest slugger Josh Gibson, he played briefly in organized baseball in 1948 after being signed at age seventeen by the Youngstown (Ohio) Colts of the Class C Mid-Atlantic League, immediately after his graduation from Schenley High School in Pittsburgh. While with Youngstown, in addition to the pressure of living up to his name, the youngster had sociological stress relating to his presence on the previously all-white team. The team had to have a meeting to decide who would room with him, and he was told not to drink out of the water ladle. These factors contributed to a low batting average, and he did not hit well enough to stick with the team.
The next season he was given a chance with the Homestead Grays because of his father, and for two years (1949-1950) he played with the Grays. His father's close friend Sam Bankhead was his manager and mentor. As a second baseman he had difficulty with the pivot on double plays, and Bankhead moved him to third base. Following the breakup of the Grays, he went with Bankhead to Farnham in the Canadian Provincial League, where he played third base and hit .230 with average power for the 1951 season. He was very fast on the bases; Bankhead gave him the green light to run, and he pilfered 20 bases in 68 games before breaking his ankle sliding into second base. Despite the injury, he continued to play with the ankle deadened with Novocain. But that was to be his last year in baseball, and at age twenty-one his career was ended.
As a youngster, he had been the Pittsburgh Crawfords' batboy when his father was with the team. His mother died giving birth to him and his twin sister, and he was reared by his grandmother, but in later years he developed a close relationship with his father. However, Bankhead served as a surrogate father and probably had a greater influence on him than his real father. After their baseball careers had ended, he and Bankhead worked together for the city of Pittsburgh's Sanitation Department. He later had to retire because of health conditions that eventually necessitated a kidney transplant.
Baseball Career Highlights:
"Just hearing all the great things about my father."
"After baseball, I worked for Allegheny County in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, teaching kids the history and fundamentals of baseball and about the Negro Leagues. In 1972, I learned that I needed a kidney transplant. In the 1980s, I started traveling with the Negro Leagues Baseball Players Association (NLBPA) to different cities for autograph shows. I had another kidney transplant in 1992."
"I founded the Josh Gibson Foundation in 1994. During its first four years, the foundation was not very active due to complications from my second transplant. However, since 1999, my grandson, Sean Gibson, has been operating the foundation. So far, we've made some progress. In order to keep my father's name alive, Sean has started the Josh Gibson Little League. Also, we're in the process of applying for nonprofit status."
Awards, Honors, Titles, Championships,
"My only award was being the great Josh Gibson's son."
NLBM Legacy 2000 Players' Reunion Alumni Book, Kansas City Missouri: Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, Inc., 2000.
James A. Riley, The Biographical Encyclopedia of the Negro Baseball Leagues, New York: Carroll & Graf Publishers, Inc., 1994.
Josh Gibson, Jr.