Race barriers of the time prevented two of baseball’s greatest sluggers from ever facing each other. Now, the great-grandsons of Babe Ruth and Josh Gibson have teamed up to offer a new piece of artwork featuring a mythical meeting between the two legends.
The great grandsons of baseball legends Babe Ruth and Josh Gibson, who met by chance at a wedding reception several years ago, have commmissioned an original painting of a fantasy meeting between their illustrious Hall of Fame ancestors.
The painting, by the celebrated artist Bill Purdom, depicts Babe and Josh standing together with a backdrop of old Yankee Stadium. The Babe wears his pinstripe uniform and Josh, who is holding a bat while talking baseball with Ruth, is in his familiar Homestead Grays uniform.
Ruth, (1895-1948) who remains the most popular sports figure in American history, even 59 years after his passing, was considered Major League Baseball’s savior. By hitting more home runs each year than most teams hit, Babe changed the way the game is played and endeared himself to fans after the horror of the 1919 World Series “fix.”
Gibson, (1911-1947) known as the “Black Babe Ruth,” was considered just as powerful a slugger. He was the source of legendary home run feats, but, because of the unwritten “color line” in force during his life, never got to match skills with Ruth on the diamond. There is no evidence of an actual meeting between these two baseball greats, thus making this painting fun, fanciful and wishful.
There will be two versions of the painting, “Josh & The Babe” – Legends of Their Leagues No. 1, reproduced. A limited edition of 300 will be an 18” x 24” giclee on superior, heavyweight satin canvas which will have a retail price of $295. A second, open-ended edition will be an 8” x 10” museum print on 200-year archival paper and will sell for $49.95.
A portion of the proceeds from the sale of the prints will be benefit the Babe Ruth League scholarship fund and the Josh Gibson Foundation.
Brent Stevens, the great-grandson of the Babe Ruth and grandson of Julia Ruth Stevens (one of Babe’s two daughters), and Sean Gibson, the great-grandson of Josh Gibson, collaborated with their partners, Legendary Sports Prints and Bill Purdom to introduce this meaningful image.
“I think Babe would have loved the chance to play against Josh,” notes Brent Stevens, a resident of Atlanta. “He played a lot of interracial exhibition games and enjoyed the experience. For much of his career, he battled Lou Gehrig for the home run title, so it would have been an exciting opportunity for Babe and Josh to match-up against each other in a similar duel. It’s a real shame that they didn’t have the chance to play against each other.”
Adds Pittsburgh resident Sean Gibson, “I’m pretty sure Josh had a lot of respect for Babe. Babe was hitting home runs and making history in the majors, while Josh was making his own history in the Negro Leagues. It would have been great to see them play together, but that was not a choice made by Josh. Society made that choice for him. Among Negro League players and fans, Babe was called ‘the white Josh Gibson.’ It’s great to see them finally ‘come together’ with this artwork after being compared with each other for over 70 years.”
Artist Bill Purdom has painted 78 great moments in baseball since 1989, including 10 “first pitch” paintings of new ballparks that have opened around the country. His originals hang in private collections around the world and lithographs of all 78 of the paintings are part of the permanent collection of the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. His work has been seen on Seinfeld
and Arliss, and he has painted 340 trading cards for Topps. In 2004, Major League Baseball handed out 250,000 copies of his painting of Jackie Robinson’s first at bat to fans in ballparks across America.
The print is available through Ironclad Authentics, LLC.
- The Josh Gibson Foundation is a non-profit organization, administered by Mr. Gibson, that benefits youth in the communities around Homestead, PA (where Josh Gibson achieved his greatest fame), through education and tutoring programs, motivational programs, local Little League team sponsorships, and scholarships to local children.
- Babe Ruth Central, is a website created by Mr. Stevens and his business partner, Stu Dressler. The website is a tribute to all things Babe and is meant to keep new generations in touch with his legendary accomplishments, as well as offer an online community for existing fans. It also includes a special section just for kids.
- The Babe Ruth League is a non-profit organization that provides children from 13-18 with the opportunity to play baseball or softball on a national and international level. The overarching goal is to make better citizens, as well as promote mental and physical development. The Babe Ruth Scholarship Program provides children who participate in Babe Ruth Baseball/Softball with $1,000 scholarships for their college tuition.