Who is Josh Gibson? A look back at the baseball slugging legend taking over MLB records

Gibson is the new MLB career batting leader, among other key statistical categories.

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Josh Gibson is the new MLB batting king.

MLB on Tuesday announced it incorporated statistics from the Negro Leagues into its record books, meaning new players are now chart toppers.

Gibson was the most notable because he became the new leader in key stats like career and season batting, among others.

But just who is Gibson and what is his background? Here's everything to know about the slugger:

Who is Josh Gibson?

Gibson was a baseball catcher known for his ability to hit at an elite level. He starred in the Negro Leagues for almost two decades and is now in the all-time MLB record books as the career and season batting leader, among other statistics.

How old was Josh Gibson?

Gibson was born on Dec. 21, 1911 in Buena Vista, Ga. However, he died at just 35 years old on Jan. 20, 1947 in Pittsburgh, Pa.

When did Josh Gibson play in the Negro Leagues?

Gibson, a right hander, made his debut for the Homestead Grays in Washington on July 31, 1930. Here are his multiple stints:

  • Memphis Red Sox, 1930
  • Homestead Grays, 1930-31
  • Pittsburgh Crawfords, 1932-36
  • Homestead Grays, 1937-1940, 1942-46

Gibson played one game for Red Sox as an 18-year-old, but the manager, "Candy Jim" Taylor, was not impressed and said Gibson wouldn't make it as a catcher. Gibson then went to the Grays after being recruited by Cumberland Posey.

In between some of those gaps, Gibson played for Ciudad Trujillo in Trujillo's Dominican League in 1937 and in the Mexican League for Azules de Veracruz from 1940-41.

What statistics does Josh Gibson lead?

Now among the MLB record holders, these are some of the categories Gibson leads with his numbers being transferred:

  • Batting average of .372 (surpassed Ty Cobb's .367)
  • Season average of .466 in 1943 (surpassed Charlie Smith’s .451)
  • Slugging percentage of .718 (surpassed Babe Ruth's .690)
  • OPS of 1.177 (surpassed Ruth's 1.164)

What accolades does Josh Gibson have?

Gibson has numerous accolades under his name. Here's a full list:

  • 12 All-Star nods (1933-36, 1939, 1942-44, 1946)
  • 2 Negro World Series champions (1943, 1944)
  • 3 Negro National League batting champions (1936, 1937, 1939)
  • 2 Triple Crowns (1936, 1937)
  • Baseball Hall of Fame (1972)
  • Washington Nationals Ring of Honor
  • Pirates Hall of Fame

Did Josh Gibson ever coach baseball?

The main account of Gibson being a baseball coach came when he served as the first ever manager of the Cangrejeros de Santurce, a historic franchise in the Puerto Rico Baseball League.

Why did Josh Gibson not play in MLB?

MLB formed in 1876 but the National Agreement between the NL and AL didn't come until 1903. Still, Gibson didn't play in the majors of that era due to the color barrier that didn't allow non-white players from participating. Nearly a century later, he's on top of some of the most important stats.

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