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Josh Gibson: A Life in the Negro Leagues Paperback – February 15, 2000

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Editorial Reviews

Review

Outstanding...a cornerstone for any baseball collection. (Lee Milazzo The Dallas Morning News)

A life of the 'black Babe Ruth' doubles as a history of the Negro Leagues. (Chicago Tribune)

A vivid, moving account...one fine book! (Charles C. Alexander The Historian)

Considered by many historians to be the best biography of the slugger. (Josh Hamill The New York Times)

About the Author

William Brashler is also the editor of The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars and Motor Kings, the highly regarded novel of a touring black baseball team in the pre-Jackie Robinson era, as well as two other novels, City Dogs and Giancana. He lives and writes in Chicago.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 226 pages
  • Publisher: Ivan R. Dee; 1 edition (February 15, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1566632951
  • ISBN-13: 978-1566632959
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.6 x 8.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #976,673 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Hank Waddles on May 3, 2004
Format: Paperback
Beginning in 1930 with his debut with the Homestead Grays and extending through a career which featured several years with the Pittsburgh Crawfords and stints with various winter league teams in Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and Mexico, Josh Gibson was quite simply the greatest hitter of his era. While he is often referred to as the black Babe Ruth, the black press and fans of the Negro Leagues during the 1930's called Ruth the white Josh Gibson. Though records are sketchy, Gibson is reported to have hit as many as 70 homeruns in a single season and it can safely be assumed that he hit more than 800 round trippers in his career. There are stories indicating that Gibson actually hit a homerun completely out of Yankee Stadium, a feat no major leaguer has accomplished, and although Brashler's research disputes this claim, there are countless other tales of tape-measure blasts. There was a 525-foot homerun that landed in a Puerto Rico prison, a one-handed homerun in Indianapolis, and a doubtful claim of a 700-foot blast out of Chicago's Wrigley Field. Whether or not the stories are believed, the overall perception cannot be ignored. As the most imposing hitter of the 1930's and 40's, Josh Gibson was larger than life. He was posthumously inducted into baseball's Hall of Fame in 1972.
Most baseball fans are familiar with the legend of Josh Gibson, but Brashler brings readers behind the stories of one of the greatest hitters of all-time. Along with the glory accorded a player of such talent, there were disappointments as well. The death of his first wife and the subsequent abandonment of his children haunted Gibson throughout his playing career, and he often felt overshadowed by the showmanship of Satchel Paige.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By King Yao on June 9, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Josh Gibson was a great baseball player in the 30s and 40s in the Negro Leagues. This book chronicles his baseball career, as well as the life in the Negro Leagues and playing in Latin America during the winter months and some summers as well. William Brashler does a fine job writing about Gibson's passion for the game, to the point that I feel like I know him as well as any current major leaguers. In addition, Brashler explains in detail what life was like for Negro League players; the horrible way they were treated in many places in the south; the winter months that they played in places like Mexico, Puerto Rico, Cuba and other Latin/South American countries. There are also separate short chapters on Cool Papa Bell, Jimmie Crutchfield and Sammy Bankhead, as well as plenty of interesting information on Satchel Paige. I'm glad I had a chance to read about the great Josh Gibson and the Negro Leagues. I believe anyone interested in baseball history would appreciate this book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By V. P. on August 17, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
You know, I think that the cheating so called athletes today should read this book. Talk about hardship, hard work, all kinds of injustice and disrespect. I like reading about the Negro League and the players who were involved in the league. I mean these guys were talented and got no recognition at least not the recognition that they so rightly deserved due to America and it's racist, ugly mind-set. This book made me sad and proud. Sad in the fact that my brothers were treated so poorly and proud in the fact that these guys were bad, true sportsman. There is one part in the book that I couldn't appreciate, this is when the author went to interview Mr. Cool Papa Bell at his home, he said that Mr. Bell was carrying a gun when he walked the author out to his car. He made it seem like Mr. Bell didn't need the weapon. One thing I wish I could stress to this author is unless he lived in that neighborhood he wouldn't know if Mr. Bell needed that gun of not. Also the author told of the death of Mr. Bankhead, but, he didn't say anything about the disposition of his killer. Otherwise this was a page turner for me!
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Sean Claycamp on May 20, 2010
Format: Paperback
All six reviews for this book are 5 star so I am really against the grain here but I thought this book was kind of a waste of time. It was roughly 200 pages and really I would only say that 50 pages of it were actually devoted to Josh Gibson. The final third of the book was dedicated to other Negro Leaguers. Much of the rest of the book was about society as a whole and the negro leagues.

There wasn't a ton of information about Josh Gibson. That may be because there isn't a lot of info out there on him. Stats are hard to come by and he lived a short life. Maybe there just isn't much of a story to tell. That might explain my disappointment with the book. I probably would feel like I could give it a better review if it would have had a different title or perhaps a subtitle that explained the book's true content.

Not saying the book wasn't well written or well researched... I think it is well written. The author clearly writes at a level that is interesting and moves you through the book quickly and it is a short book with not a lot of detail.

My big beef and this is why I would give it a poor rating. It just didn't focus on Josh Gibson. It focuses more on the negro leagues as a whole. A different title and a better understanding of the book's subject matter with a good intro or a subtitle would clear up the issue in my mind.
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Josh Gibson: A Life in the Negro Leagues
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