George Gibson (baseball)
||This article includes a list of references, but its sources remain unclear because it has insufficient inline citations. (July 2013)|
|Catcher / Manager|
July 22, 1880|
|Died: January 25, 1967
|July 2, 1905, for the Pittsburgh Pirates|
|Last MLB appearance|
|August 20, 1918, for the New York Giants|
|Runs batted in||345|
|Career highlights and awards|
George C. Gibson (July 22, 1880 – January 25, 1967), nicknamed Mooney, was a Canadian baseball player (catcher) who caught for two different Major League teams, starting in 1905 with the Pittsburgh Pirates and ending his playing career with the New York Giants in 1918. In the 1920s and 1930s he served as manager for Pittsburgh and for the Chicago Cubs. Before that, however, Gibson started his managerial career with the Toronto Maple Leafs, a AAA Class team in the International League.
Gibson was the nephew of William Southam, founder of Southam Newspapers, the brother of Richard Southam, manager of the London Tecumsehs, and the father-in-law of Bill Warwick, a major league baseball player in the 1920s.
1909 World Series winner
Arriving back at the train station in his hometown of London, Ontario, on October 27, 1909, after winning the World Series, Gibson found more than 7,000 cheering fans to greet him. At the time, the population of London was approximately 35,000.
On September 9, 1909, Mooney caught his 112th consecutive game, breaking Chief Zimmer's 1890 record. Gibson's streak came to an end at 140 consecutive games behind the plate.
In 1921, Gibson, as manager of Pittsburgh, led the Pirates to his third consecutive first-division finish.
Born a stone's throw away from Tecumseh Park (today's Labatt Memorial Park) in London West, Gibson gained the nickname, "Mooney" early in his career due to his round, moon-like face. (One biographer disputes this, saying that Gibson picked up the nickname as a youngster when he played on a sandlot team known as the Mooneys.)
At age 12, Gibson played for the Knox Baseball Club in a church league. In 1901, he played for the West London Stars of the Canadian League and the Struthers and McClary teams of the City League.
Today, there is a commemorative plaque prominently displayed at the entrance to the main grandstand at Labatt Park in Gibson's honour.
Twenty-one years in the big leagues
Gibson first signed a pro contract in 1903 and developed his talents in Buffalo, New York of the Eastern League and in Montreal before joining the Pittsburgh Pirates two years later on July 2, 1905, at age 24. He had a strong throwing arm and led National League catchers in fielding percentage several times.
Gibson played in the Major Leagues until August 20, 1918, 12 years with the Pirates and two years with the New York Giants, appearing in 1,213 games.
Known as a developer of young pitchers, Gibson later managed the Pirates (1920–1922, 1932–1934) and the Chicago Cubs (1925).
On May 9, 1921, under manager George Gibson, the Pittsburgh Pirates beat the London Tecumsehs 8–7 at Tecumseh Park before 3,500 people in an exhibition baseball game. Before the game, Gibson and his team is presented with a silver loving cup by the London Kiwanis Club. Gibson thrills the locals by catching the opening inning with his 1909 battery mate Babe Adams and singling and scoring a run in his lone at-bat. London Mayor Sid Little entertains the team that evening at his home.
Gibson was named Canada's baseball player of the half century in 1958 and was the first baseball player elected to Canada's Sports Hall of Fame. He was subsequently inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame & Museum in 1987 and was one of the inaugural 10 inductees into the London Sports Hall of Fame in 2001. In February 1955 while organizers were planning the charter season of the Eager Beaver Baseball Association, Gibson was named "honorary lifetime president."
Connection to Labatt brewing family
When Gibson lived at 252 Central Avenue in London during the 1920s and 1930s, his immediate neighbours to the east were members of the Labatt brewing family, with whom Gibson frequently socialized. It is believed that Gibson played a significant role in the decision by John and Hugh Labatt to purchase Tecumseh Park and donate it to the City (along with $10,000 for repairs and maintenance), which occurred on December 31, 1936, after which Tecumseh Park was officially renamed "The John Labatt Memorial Athletic Park."
Gibson died at age 86 in London and is buried at Campbell Cemetery in Komoka, Ontario, not far from his Delaware farm. Near Gibson's former farm is a road named in his honour after Gibson donated some land for public use to the area conservation authority of the day.
- Who's Who in Canadian Sport by Bob Ferguson (Sporting Facts Publications, Ottawa, 3rd edition, 1999), ISBN 1-894282-00-0.
- EBBA: 40 Years of Baseball by Jeffrey Reed (Eager Beaver Baseball Association, Inc., London, Ontario, 1994, ISBN 0-9698289-0-X).
- An Eight-Page Indenture/ Instrument #33043 between The London and Western Trusts Company Limited, The Corporation of The City of London and John Labatt, Limited, dated December 31, 1936, and registered on title in the Land Registry Office for the City of London on January 2, 1937, conveying Tecumseh Park to the City of London along with $10,000 on the provisos that the athletic field be preserved, maintained and operated in perpetuity "for the use of the citizens of the City of London as an athletic field and recreation ground" and that it be renamed "The John Labatt Memorial Athletic Park."
- Career statistics and player information from Baseball-Reference, or Baseball-Reference (Minors)
- Gibson never forgot his London, Ontario, roots by Jeff Hale of The London Free Press story, Sept. 8, 1997
- Circa-1920 London Tecumsehs by Jeff Hale of The London Free Press, Sept. 9, 1997 at the Wayback Machine (archived May 4, 2003)
- Map: location of Labatt Park (formerly Tecumseh Park) in London