The Obit For Josh Gibson Jr.

Josh Gibson Jr. / Son of baseball great who followed father into Negro Leagues

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 

Friday, September 12, 2003

By Ervin Dyer, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

Josh Gibson Jr., the son of legendary Negro League slugger Josh Gibson, died Wednesday at UPMC Presbyterian of complications from a fall in his home Sunday. He was 73.

Mr. Gibson, who lived in Homewood, had baseball in his blood.

Mr. Gibson's father was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame for his storied 17-year career with the Pittsburgh Crawfords and the Homestead Grays: he amassed a .354 batting average and hit 962 home runs.

A young Mr. Gibson was witness to most of them. He was a batboy for the Pittsburgh Crawfords when his father was with the team.

The senior Gibson played before Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in 1945 in professional baseball, and he discouraged his son from playing baseball because of the poverty and prejudice that then trailed minority players.

The son didn't listen.

The younger Gibson followed his father into the Negro Leagues.

He was originally signed by the minor league Youngstown Colts at the age of 17 and later spent time in the Canadian Provincial League.

He played third base for the Homestead Grays in 1949-50 but broke his ankle sliding into a base and never returned to playing ball.

After he left baseball, he was employed at U.S. Steel Corp.'s Homestead Works as a construction worker and by Browning & Ferris Industries.

He returned to the diamond in the late 1970s when he went to work for Manpower, a community employment agency, and was sent to teach baseball to young people at Boyce Park.

Mr. Gibson's life was never too far removed from baseball.

As interest in the Negro Leagues grew during the 1990s, he spent a lot of time traveling to card-signing conventions and accepting awards recognizing his father's accomplishments.

In 1992, Mr. Gibson met with President George H.W. Bush at a celebrity-studded White House ceremony honoring surviving members of the Negro Leagues.

In 1994, with his grandson Sean and other family members, he founded the Josh Gibson Foundation, a nonprofit organization that sponsors a youth league whose teams carry the names of the Negro Leagues clubs and offers mentoring and education programs.

Two weeks ago, he took centerfield at the Pittsburgh Pirates' celebration of the Negro Leagues and handed out scholarships to students.

Mr. Gibson and his twin sister, Helen, were born on Pittsburgh's North Side in 1930. Their mother, also named Helen, died in childbirth. Mr. Gibson's father died in January 1947.

Mr. Gibson was raised in the Hill District and graduated from Schenley High School.

He is survived by his wife, Gertrude Gibson and three children from his first marriage: daughters Lillian Gibson Bailey and Carla Gibson Bonner, both of McKees Rocks; and Josh Gibson III of Sheraden.

Visitation will be tomorrow from 4 to 8 p.m. and Sunday from 2 to 6 p.m. at White Memorial Chapel, Thomas Boulevard, Point Breeze.

The funeral will be Monday afternoon in Shiloh Community Baptist Church, 6940 Frankstown Road, Homewood. Burial will follow in Homewood Cemetery.

Memorial donations may be made to the Josh Gibson Foundation, Box 4310, Pittsburgh, 15204.