PITTSBURGH, PA (June 21, 2011) — Plans for the Josh Gibson Centennial Negro League Gala — which will be held on Saturday, August 13 at the Wyndham Grand Pittsburgh — were unveiled today at a press conference that took place at the Senator John Heinz History Center. The announcement was made by Sean Gibson, the great-grandson of Josh Gibson and the executive director of the Josh Gibson Foundation, and Pittsburgh Steelers’ Hall of Fame running back Franco Harris, who is serving as an honorary co-chair of the event along with his wife, Dana Harris.
Gibson, the star catcher and prolific home run hitter for the Homestead Grays and Pittsburgh Crawfords during the 1930s, was born on December 21, 1911 in Buena Vista, GA. He moved to Pittsburgh in 1923 when his father found work in the steel industry. Gibson, who is often called “the black Babe Ruth,” is believed to have hit nearly 800 home runs during his 17-year career. He died at the age of 35 in 1947 and was inducted into baseball’s Hall of Fame in 1972. The Josh Gibson Centennial Negro League Gala will be the signature event of this year’s celebration of his achievements.
As part of today’s announcement, Franco Harris revealed that another great slugger, Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson, will attend the August 13 gala and accept the Josh Gibson Legacy Award. Jackson hit 563 home runs during his 21-year major league career and was a member of four World Championship teams during the 1970s — two with the Oakland Athletics (’73 & ’74) and two with the New York Yankees (’77 & ’78).
In addition, Al Oliver — a former All-Star first baseman-outfielder for the Pirates and a member of Pittsburgh’s 1971 World Championship club — attended today’s press conference. He was also part of the Pirates’ famous all-minority line-up that the faced the Philadelphia Phillies on September 1, 1971. Oliver and the other members of that historic line-up will be honored at the Josh Gibson Centennial Negro League Gala in connection with the G.I.B.S.O.N. Awards, which recognize outstanding achievement in government, sports, business, civil service, community service and education.
“The 100th anniversary of Josh Gibson’s birth provides a perfect time for us to recognize his life and his many achievements,” said Sean Gibson. “He was a great ballplayer and a great man, and I’m absolutely thrilled to have other great athletes such as Franco Harris, Reggie Jackson and Al Oliver involved with our centennial gala.”
Information regarding tickets and sponsorship opportunities for the Josh Gibson Centennial Negro League Gala is available by logging on to www.joshgibson.org or by calling (412) 771-6949. Members of the media seeking more details about the event should contact Jim Lachimia at firstname.lastname@example.org or (412) 708-9301.