October 20, 2003

Baseball History 3

The two greatest hitters you never heard of.

Josh Gibson was a catcher in the old negro leagues and one of the greatest sluggers the game has ever seen.* He was selected to the Hall of Fame in 1972.

Sadaharu Oh is the greatest slugger in Japanese baseball history**. He finished his career with more homers than Hank Aaron, and led the Japanese league in home runs for 13 straight seasons, averaging 45 homers a year. Upon his retirement, he became the manager for his team, the Yomiuri Giants.

* Take most stats from the negro leagues with a grain of salt because accurate records were not always kept and the newspapers of the day often did not cover the games with any consistency. Historians usually try to determine the actual numbers by cross-checking multiple sources, some of dubious reliability. The numbers might not be correct, but there's no doubt that Josh Gibson was a monster at the plate.

** There is some dispute over whether Josh Gibson hit more homers in his career (see note above).

Posted by Ted at October 20, 2003 05:49 AM
Category: History

Actually, I've heard of both. Gibson played for the local DC Negro League team, the Homestead Grays, and the Josh Ecksley character in the X-Files episode The Unnatural was based on Gibson. I also noticed Mulder was wearing a Gibson Homestead Grays baseball shirt at the end of the episode...

I remember watching a replay of Oh's record-breaking home run on Warner Wolf's spot, when he was on Channel 9, about a million years ago. Wolf concluded Hank Aaron would've destroyed any Sadaharu Oh record because Japanese ballparks are smaller then American ballparks. That may have been true at the time, but after witching Mitsui's homer in the first last night...I wonder.

Posted by: Victor at October 20, 2003 08:02 AM

Oh was a little guy, and Mays and Aaron weren't really big men either. Today's athletes are bigger, faster and stronger. This is one of those nice 'armchair' arguments, like Mays/Mantle/Snyder. You'll never convince me that anyone was a better player than Willie Mays. :)

Posted by: Ted at October 20, 2003 04:54 PM

Nobody was better than Willie? Aah, how completely we've forgotten joltin' Joe Charbenau!!

Posted by: Tuning Spork at October 20, 2003 07:38 PM

Armchair arguments? You want an armchair argument?

The best are those concerning those who, for one reason or another, was never allowed to live up to his potential. Drugs/alcohol got some (Len Bias), tragic mistakes others (Danny Heatley), and those whose deaths cannot be explained: Roberto Clemente.

My best friend got to see two games of Clemente's World Series. Even then, we knew he was The Luckiest Kid In The Sixth Grade.

Posted by: Victor at October 20, 2003 09:26 PM

Victor, I agree completely. It's going to be interesting to see how Heatley plays when he comes back.

I got to see Mays, Bonds, Marachal, McCovey, etc. play several times growing up in the Bay Area, as well as the A's (remember the handlebar mustaches?). I know I got to see Carew and Killebrew of the Twins, and the Royals' Amos Otis. And of course the @#&!*# Dodgers. :D I don't think I ever saw Clemente.

Spork, how could I have forgotten Joltin' Joe? ;)

Posted by: Ted at October 21, 2003 07:36 AM

If he comes back--he's up on felony manslaughter charges.

Posted by: Victor at October 21, 2003 09:36 AM

*assinine racist nitwit comment deleted*

Posted by: BRUCE LEE at February 25, 2005 07:27 PM

*assinine racist nitwit comment deleted*

Posted by: BRUCE LEE at February 25, 2005 07:31 PM
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