Josh Gibson deserves MVP honor
Time to rename trophy after great Negro League star
Good morning, all. I hope your week is off to a great start.
Before the pandemic, I had the chance to meet and interview the great grandson of one of the greatest players in baseball history, Josh Gibson. Sean Gibson is the executive director of the Josh Gibson Foundation. Gibson, who reputedly was the only player to ever hit a fair ball out of the old Yankee Stadium, was arguably the greatest player in Negro League baseball history. He most assuredly would have been a major league baseball star, if the sport did not discriminate with its tacit ban of black players, before Jackie Robinson broke the barrier in 1947. It was 50 years ago that Gibson was inducted into the baseball Hall of Fame.
The foundation’s purpose is to underwrite programs for youth in greater Pittsburgh - where Josh Gibson spent most of his life, when he wasn’t traveling the country to play baseball - offer mentoring and provide scholarships, all while keeping the memory of Josh Gibson and what he stood for alive.
Last Friday night at the Hartford Yard Goats game, I had the chance to renew acquaintances with Sean Gibson and interview him, during our broadcast on radio and milb.tv. Like every non-profit organization, the foundation took a hit during the pandemic but, according to Gibson, it is now on better footing. Gibson was in attendance, as the Yard Goats paid tribute to Negro League baseball and HBCU (Historical Black Colleges and Universities), to present a scholarship to a deserving Hartford student. The foundation is expanding its scope and through the Yard Goats, has forged a bond with Hartford.
We also talked about the move to rename the MVP awards doled out by MLB. You may recall the name of Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis, the first commissioner of MLB (hired to clean up the Black Sox Scandal), was removed from the trophy. Landis did everything in his power to prevent the integration of baseball. Such discrimination, mind you, was never out in the open, it was all done behind the scenes. For example, when Bill Veeck wanted to buy the struggling Philadelphia Phillies - pre-1947 - he let it slip that his plan was to integrate the ball club. Once Landis got whiff of that blueprint, he went to work to deny Veeck’s approval as owner. Rightly, baseball removed Landis’ name from the trophy.
But which name should replace it? The Josh Gibson Foundation wants the award renamed the “Josh Gibson Memorial Baseball Award.” An online petition drive on the foundation’s website is underway. Here is the link. There is an upsell to help spread the word, if you go to the page to sign, but you do not have to pay anything, in order to sign the petition. I signed it yesterday.
Renaming the trophy after Josh Gibson would be a fitting tribute to one of the greatest to play the game.
Incidentally, going into the Hall with Gibson 50 years ago was another great from the Negro Leagues, Buck Leonard. I had the chance to interview him 39 years ago.
Apple gets a kick out of soccer
In case you missed it, Apple announced last week that it has signed a 10-year deal with Major League Soccer to carry all of its matches on Apple-TV, beginning in 2023.
Do not underestimate this streaming deal. Apple sees the future and it involves a generation that is consuming content on smartphones and tablets. And if you want to watch the event on a bigger screen, all you need do is cast it to the 72-inch bemouth hanging on your wall. Combine Apple’s technology with soccer’s growing popularity and there is no wonder the technology giant is adding another sport entity (It signed a deal with MLB earlier) to its platform.
Commissioner is all streamed up
And speaking of streaming, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred had plenty to say about his sport, following an owners meeting in New York City last week. Among the topics he covered was baseball streaming its games, despite the number of games currently available via cable television and the MLB app.
“Unlike any other entity, we have access to all of the digital rights, and let’s not forget we do have the technology chops to stream 2,430 games given that we’ve been doing it since 2000.”
At the moment, you cannot stream your local team’s games, unless you subscribe to the cable company that carries the team, or in the case of NESN, home of the Boston Red Sox, you can pay a separate monthly fee, if you are not a NESN cable subscriber. The commissioner hinted that will be changing soon.
Repeat, the future is in streaming, with the world of sports, and the world itself at your finger tips. Those sports which choose to ignore this reality, do so at their own peril.
Well, that is it for today. As always, thank you for subscribing and have a safe and healthy week.