In 1998, with Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire breaking Roger Maris’s single-season home run record, a couple of newspapers took the moment to talk about Josh Gibson. On November 5, the New York Amsterdam News talked with Josh Gibson Jr., 68. Senior had died in 1947, at age 35, of an illness related to high blood pressure.
“He’s in the Hall of Fame in Mexico, one of only three American ballplayers in the Mexico Hall of Fame. My father was the most valuable player in Puerto Rico in 1942 and 1943,” said Gibson, during a phone interview from his home in Pittsburgh. “I have a watch that they gave him in 1946 as the home run king of the Negro National League.
“The Negro Leagues played all year round. When the season was over in the states, they’d go to the Latin countries and play in the winter.”
And Ted “Double Duty” Radcliffe told the Chicago Tribune:
“Josh Gibson hit 84 home runs in 1939. He died in 1947 when he was still in his prime. He could hit. He was as good as anybody who ever lived. I signed him with the (Homestead Grays).
“Josh was the only one to hit a home run (completely) out of Yankee Stadium, and in Washington, in the old Griffith Stadium . . . that was a big park.
“In 1932, the league didn’t hit but 27 (homers) and Josh Gibson hit 42 himself. He was a monster. He could throw and catch and he could run. He was 6-2 and weighed 197. He was all man.”