Thursday, March 26, 2009

Negro League Baseball (5/3/06)

Who's the greatest home run hitter of all time? Henry Aaron? Babe Ruth? Barry Bonds? Top sluggers, all three, but who could dismiss Josh Gibson? And what about the best pitcher? Maybe Sandy Koufax or Roger Clemens, but a good case can be made for Satchel Paige. Both Gibson and Paige made their marks in the Negro Leagues, baseball organizations that flourished when Major League Baseball still had a color barrier. From 1920 to 1947, such African American ballplayers as Cool Papa Bell, Rube Foster, and Buck Leonard were banned from the majors. Still, they played as many as three games a day, barnstorming the country and providing fans with a combination of showmanship and baseball at its highest level. Gibson is probably the only man to have hit a fair ball out of Yankee Stadium. Sadly, the only place we'll ever know how he might have fared against Bob Feller, or how "Bullet Joe" Rogan would have pitched against Ted Williams or Joe DiMaggio is in the ballparks of our imaginations.

No comments: