Indiana University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Multicultural Affairs and Student Success begins the celebration of Black History
Month with “King’s Dream,” a multimedia program about the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on January 31 at 7:00 p.m. in the IUP Performing Arts Center’s Fisher Auditorium.
The presentation includes songs, commentaries, and images to tell a story of unity, peace, and perseverance. It is free and open to the community.
On February 4, MASS
will present “Josh Gibson’s Negro League Tour” at 6:00 p.m. in the Hadley Union Building’s Ohio Room. The program is part of the university’s Six O’Clock Series and is free and open to the community. Parking on campus is free after 5:00 p.m. except in reserve spaces.
The presentation focuses on Hall of Famer Josh Gibson as told from his great-grandson, Sean Gibson. It includes a special appearance by Pedro Sierra, a former Negro League player. Memorabilia also will be on display, and Sierra and Gibson will sign autographs.
Sean Gibson has dedicated his life to the preservation of Josh’s legacy and is executive director of the Josh Gibson Foundation, a Pittsburgh area nonprofit organization. The Josh Gibson Foundation was established in 1994 in an effort to keep the memory
of Pittsburgh’s Josh Gibson and the entire Negro Leagues alive. The foundation partners with the University of Pittsburgh, Duquesne University, and Carnegie Mellon University by matching up college students with elementary and middle school youth
for tutoring. With a strong focus on education, the foundation currently serves roughly 300 children and plans to increase those numbers by starting new programs yearly. The foundation also sponsors the Josh Gibson Baseball Academy.
Josh Gibson, the man that many regard as the greatest Negro Leagues player ever, was born in 1911 in Georgia. He relocated to southwestern Pennsylvania in 1924 after his father found work in a Pittsburgh area steel mill. Josh began catching for the Pittsburgh
Crawfords in 1927. With the addition of Gibson, the Crawfords rose to the top of the city’s sandlot teams and challenged Cumberland Posey’s Homestead Grays, a stellar club of Black professional baseball players from across the nation.
During Gibson’s career, he played ball
with Hall of Famers Oscar Charleston, Cool Papa Bell, Judy Johnson, and Satchel Paige. The Homestead Grays won an unprecedented nine consecutive Negro National League pennants with Gibson behind the plate.
Due to sporadic statistical accounting in the Negro Leagues, reports vary regarding the number of home runs Josh Gibson hit, with some estimates as high as 962. During his career, Gibson never played on a losing team. Moreover, it was rumored that Pittsburgh
Pirates owner Bill Bensawanger signed Josh to a Major League contract in 1943, a full four years before Jackie Robinson entered the league, but Major League Baseball Commissioner Kennesaw Landis allegedly would not allow Gibson to play.
He died suddenly on January 20, 1947, a few months before Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in the Major Leagues. Gibson was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1972, being only the second Negro Leagues player, after Satchel Paige, to be so honored.
Sierra was born in 1938 in Havana, Cuba. In 1954, at the age of 16, was signed to his first baseball contract with the Indianapolis Clowns of the Negro Leagues. He completed the 1954 season with the Clowns, and returned to Cuba to play winter ball. In
spring 1955, Pedro made the trip to the States again, this time to join the line-up of the Detroit Stars. He spent the 1959 season on fields of the Lakeshore Virginia Rookie League. Drafted into the Army, Sierra played with the military’s Ft. Hood
Tankers. In 1962, he joined the Minnesota Twins (formally the Senators) farm system. He played with the Twins organization from 1962 through 1966. For the next three years, he pitched in the Provincial Leagues of Canada and wrapped up his Canadian
baseball career as the Sherbrooke Allouettes Most Valuable Player. At the conclusion of his 1969 season, he was signed by the Washington Senators and played for its AA and AAA teams. From the 1971 to 1975 seasons, he played in Mexico for a variety
of teams. He completed his college degree at Boriqua College and worked with the Department of Recreation in Montgomery County, Maryland, Delinquency Prevention Program and became Regional Liaison for Refugees Affairs as part of a Special Task Force
Program that dealt with the new arrival of Cuban refugees during the 1980 Cuban Refugee Crisis. He also designed, developed, and implemented "Get High on Sports," a drug prevention program that involved professional baseball players as role models
Being bilingual and bicultural, he became a mediator for the Montgomery County Public Schools to ease cultural conflicts, served six years as chairman of the Maryland Governor’s Commission of Hispanics Affairs, and was the first Hispanic commissioner
in the Maryland Governor’s Commission on Drugs and Alcohol.
In 2002, he joined the Pennsylvania Roadwarriors as the pitching coach; worked as a bench coach for the Newark Bears, as a pitching coach with LaNew Bears of the Chinese Professional Baseball League in Taiwan, joined the Atlantic City Surf Baseball Club
(New Jersey) as the special assistant to the general manager for Minority Affairs, and returned to the field as pitching coach for the Sussex Skyhawks of the Can-Am League from 2006 to 2007.