Today in Black History: June 3 (Extended)
On June 3, 1937, catcher Josh Gibson of the Negro League’s Homestead Grays hit a ball 580 feet in Yankee Stadium.
On June 3, 1937, renowned catcher Josh Gibson of the Negro League’s Homestead Grays hit a ball 580 feet in Yankee Stadium.
The astounding hit would have eclipsed Mickey Mantle’s record 565-foot home run hit in Griffith Stadium in 1953 as the longest ever if Negro League records were included alongside those of National and American Leagues.
Considered among many baseball historians to be one of the top catchers and power hitters in the history of any league, Gibson has also been credited with knocking the only fair ball ever hit out of Yankee Stadium in 1934.
Interestingly enough, the Pittsburgh-raised athlete's legendary career launched in 1930 when he came out of the stands at a Grays' game in July 1930 to replace the team’s injured catcher. He lived up to his reputation as a fearsome power hitter while serving as the Grays’ permanent catcher and cleanup hitter and quickly became the best power hitter in the Negro League and, arguably, of his generation. While his Hall of Fame plaque reads that he neared 800 home runs in his career, other historians have put the number as high as 900, according to History.com.
Gibson died from a stroke in his home on Jan. 20, 1947, at the age of 35, three months before Jackie Robinson’s historic debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers and the integration of the major leagues.
(Photo: Mark Rucker/Transcendental Graphics, Getty Images)