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The power and the darkness : the life of Josh Gibson in the shadows of the game

Author: Mark Ribowsky
Publisher: New York : Simon & Schuster, ©1996.
Edition/Format:   Print book : Biography : EnglishView all editions and formats
Summary:
There's a distinct sound that results from a great hitter making pure contact with a baseball, a thunder-clap of power that lesser hitters can only aspire to. Before his first exposure to Josh Gibson, long-time Negro leagues all-star Buck O'Neil had heard the sound just once, coming from the bat of Babe Ruth.
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Genre/Form: Biography
History
Additional Physical Format: Online version:
Ribowsky, Mark.
Power and the darkness.
New York : Simon & Schuster, ©1996
(OCoLC)605312769
Online version:
Ribowsky, Mark.
Power and the darkness.
New York : Simon & Schuster, ©1996
(OCoLC)607745254
Named Person: Josh Gibson; Josh Gibson; Josh Gibson
Material Type: Biography
Document Type: Book
All Authors / Contributors: Mark Ribowsky
ISBN: 0684804026 9780684804026
OCLC Number: 34149974
Notes: Includes index.
Description: 319 pages : illustrations ; 23 cm
Responsibility: Mark Ribowsky.

Abstract:

There's a distinct sound that results from a great hitter making pure contact with a baseball, a thunder-clap of power that lesser hitters can only aspire to. Before his first exposure to Josh Gibson, long-time Negro leagues all-star Buck O'Neil had heard the sound just once, coming from the bat of Babe Ruth.

It is as "the black Babe Ruth" that Gibson is best remembered, but while Ruth invited the adoration of millions with his easy smile, becoming a beloved symbol of the national pastime, Gibson lived his life bathed in the darkness that came both from the shadow world of the Negro leagues and from within his own tortured soul.

The legends that grew up around Gibson are legion. It is said that he is the only man to have hit a fair ball out of Yankee Stadium. Some claim he hit as many as seventy-five home runs in a season. He was a fightening hitter to face, and in addition he played the most demanding position on the field, donning the mask, chest protector, and shin guards - the so-called tools of ignorance - required to play catcher, the defensive team's true leader and quarterback.

What Satchel Paige was to pitching in the Negro leagues, Gibson was to hitting: their greatest star, biggest gate attraction, and most important symbol.

But while Satchel Paige was not just a pitcher but an entertainer, mindful of the need to please the crowd and always ready to join what he called "the social ramble," Gibson was a harder man, a victim of a harder life. Forever haunted by the death in childbirth of the woman he loved, he destroyed his body through drink and drugs even as he kept launching tape-measure home runs into the far reaches of the bleachers.

Even at his peak, it was not unusual for him to spend part of a season in a hospital, drying out or under sedation for his violent rages. If Satchel Paige is baseball's Louis Armstrong, belatedly loved as an accommodating caricature that belies the greatness of his accomplishments, Josh Gibson is its Charlie Parker, a genius dead too soon in a body that bore the consequences of the life he led.

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