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Lot # 1327 (of 1807)   < Previous Lot | Next Lot >

Circa 1944 Josh Gibson Original Photo - PSA/DNA Type 1

Starting Bid - $2,000.00, Sold For - $8,295.00

Exceedingly rare original photo of Hall of Fame catcher Josh Gibson as a member of the Homestead Grays. Encapsulated and designated a "Type I" photo by PSA/DNA. Although original team photos picturing Gibson are known, those capturing him by himself are virtually nonexistent. That fact is even more astounding when one considers that a number of prominent newspapers have recently sold their photo archives, thereby flooding the marketplace with literally millions of original news photos. This is the first Josh Gibson PSA/DNA certified "Type 1" original photograph we have ever offered, and one of only a few examples we have ever seen. With regard to its size, clarity, and condition it could not be any finer. The crystal-clear news photo, measuring 8 x 10 inches, captures Gibson on the sidelines wearing his complete catcher's gear as he strikes a pose for the cameraman. Far in the background an unidentified player can be seen taking batting practice. A "McNeill News Photo Service" stamp appears on the reverse as does the handwritten name "Josh Gibson" at the top. Red editorial notations indicate that this photo originally appeared in print: "Reduce to 17.6 picas/9* sports/Josh Gibson/Make same size as "B." McNeill News Photo Service was based in Washington, D.C., as noted in its address within the credit stamp. The photo displays a few minor surface wrinkles (most of which can only be seen when viewed at certain angles) and a light paper-clip impression along the left border. In Excellent condition overall and far superior in appearance to most press photos from the era. This is certainly a worthy contender for consideration as the finest Josh Gibson original "Type I" photo extant, and one that would be a significant highlight in any world-class baseball photo, Negro League, or Hall of Fame collection.

In its dating of this photo, PSA/DNA has labeled it circa 1930s; however, we believe it more likely dates to circa 1944. Gibson is wearing his home white uniform that features a patriotic shield patch on the left sleeve. That patch appears to be identical to the one worn by all Major League clubs during World War II, specifically between the years 1943 and 1945 (the patch in 1942 was lettered "Health"; in subsequent years the patch featured just red stripes as shown here). Also, the letter "W" is visible on the left sleeve below the patch. The Homestead Grays were originally based in Pittsburgh, but beginning in the early 1940s they began playing at least half their games in Washington, D. C. From 1943 on, they often played over two-thirds of their games in our nation's capitol. It was during that time that the club was more commonly referred to as the Washington Homestead Grays or Washington Grays. That Gibson's jersey bears a "W" on the sleeve, combined with the World War II patch, supports our dating of the photo to circa 1944.

Gibson was one of, the great players in Negro League history, and perhaps the greatest. As a hitter he was without equal and his power was said to be on par with that of Babe Ruth. While no official statistics are available, Gibson's Hall of Fame plaque credits him with over 800 home runs during his seventeen-year career (1930-1946). While that total and some of the stories regarding his prodigious power may be apocryphal, Negro League historian John Holway credits him with 224 home runs in 2,375 at bats against top Negro League teams. If accurate, his home run to at bat ratio of 10.6 is easily the best in Negro League history. Also, in recorded at bats against Major League pitchers Gibson compiled a .426 average. In the opinion of those that saw him play, there seems no doubt that Gibson was one of the best players in baseball history, black or white. Monte Irvin once said that Gibson "had an eye like Ted Williams and the power of Babe Ruth. He hit to all fields." After Walter Johnson saw Gibson play he commented to reporters, "There is a catcher that any big league club would like to buy for $200,000. His name is Gibson. He can do everything. He hits the ball a mile. And he catches so easy, he might as well be in a rocking chair. Throws like a rifle." Gibson died of a stroke on January 20, 1947, at the age of thirty-five. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1972. Reserve $2,000. Estimate (open). SOLD FOR $8,295.00

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