JOSH GIBSON: A Life in the Negro Leagues by William Brashler

JOSH GIBSON: A Life in the Negro Leagues

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In the Negro Leagues they called Babe Ruth ""the white Josh Gibson,"" such was Gibson's heroic stature as a home-run hitter. Gibson with his bat was like John Henry with his hammer: invincible. Brashler has reconstructed his life and baseball feats as well as it is possible to do from the few records kept in black baseball, filling out the edges with the recollections of Josh's still-living teammates--Cool Papa Bell, Jimmie Crutchfield, Judy Johnson. He played for two of the most dazzling black teams ever--the Homestead Grays and the Pittsburgh Crawfords, the latter the property of high-roller Gus Greenelee, a numbers king who supported his team in style through the worst years of the Depression. Josh--big, affable, tireless--remains something of a tintype despite Brashler's exertions and only in his last declining years--he died at 35 in 1946--does he become more fully human. Not so life in the Negro Leagues, which was both grueling and joyous, and much rowdier than white pro ball. From fleabag rooming house and pass-the-hat pay to Southern road trips and high-paying Caribbean ball, Brashler revives the forgotten glories of black players who had to compete continually just to keep their teams and themselves afloat. Like The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars and Motor Kings (1973), Brashler's novel on the Negro Leagues, vividly backgrounded.

Pub Date: April 25th, 1978
Publisher: Harper & Row