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In 2028, when Josh Hamilton is reminiscing about his four AL MVPs during his Hall of Fame induction speech (okay, work with me here ...) someone will pronounce that he is the greatest ballplayer who ever lived named "Josh" -- and if you're only looking at Major League Baseball, that may well be correct.

With apologies to Hamilton and to fellow class of '28 HOF inductee Josh Beckett (like I said, work with me here) -- unless one of the two dozen or so men named Josh currently in the minor leagues really explodes onto the scene, the greatest ballplayer named "Josh" who ever lived never played in the major leagues. That, of course ...

... is the venerable Negro League legend and the only Josh currently in the HOF, Josh Gibson. Baseball lore has it that Gibson hit nearly 800 home runs in his career -- that's juice-free, Barry! -- though the stat-keeping of the day is largely lost to current historians.

Regardless, let's see if there are other candidates for an All-Josh team that could present itself fairly in that discussion spurred by Beckett and Hamilton in Cooperstown some years hence (no, seriously, work with me here!) ...

We will only consider (1) given first names, so sorry, Von Joshua; (2) players who actually went by "Josh" -- sorry Daniel Joshua "Dan" Giese, 0-2 as a 30-year-old rookie with the Giants last year and Joshua "Jot" Goar, briefly a pitcher in the 1890s; and (3) those who had the full name "Joshua" -- apologies to the two Josh Billings ballplayers, whose names were John (a catcher, who presumably wouldn't get much time with Gibson around anyway) and Haskell, respectively, as well as to William "Josh" Reilly -- we have to limit ourselves to those with the full name, or else we couldn't dub this team, obviously enough ...

The Joshua Tree
** indicates Hall of Famer (just one so far)
* indicates All-Star (again, just one so far!)

MGR: Nobody named Josh has yet managed in the the major leagues

C Josh Bard (.276 since 2002)
1B Josh Phelps (.273, 64 homers through 2007)
2B Josh Barfield (.264, 16 homers, 2006-07 SDP/CLE)
SS Josh Wilson (.233 through '07 with TBD; also 2B)
3B Josh Fields (.244/23/67 as 2007 CHW rookie)
LF Josh Willingham (.269, 50 HR with FLA so far)
CF Josh Hamilton (.292/19/47 as 2007 CIN rookie)
RF Josh Anderson (.358 in 67 AB with 2007 HOU)
DH Josh Gibson** (800? home runs)

C Josh Paul (.244 since 1999)
OF/IF Josh Clarke (.239, five seasons, parts of 1898-1911)
OF Josh Rabe (.250, 2006-07 MIN)
OF Josh Kroeger (.167, 2004 ARI)
3B Josh Booty (QB; 7-for-26, parts of 1996-98 FLA)
OF Josh Devore (.277, 1908-14, mostly NYG)

RHSP Josh Beckett* (77-52 through 2007)
RHSP Josh Towers (45-55 through 2007)
RHSP Josh Johnson (12-7, 2006 FLA; 12-10 through '07)
RHSP Josh Fogg (61-61 since 2001)
LHSP Josh Stewart (1-3, 8.10, 2003-04 CHW)

RHRP Joah Hancock (9-7, 2002-07; d. 4/29/07)
RHRP Josh Sharpless (0-1, 4.41, 2006-07 PIT)
RHRP Josh Rupe (1-1. 3.54 with TEX since 2005)
LHRP Josh Newman (0-0, 4.50, 2 games, 2007 COL)
RHRP Josh Kinney (0-0, 3.24 with 2006 STL)

FINAL CUTS ... ("Josh a bit outside!")

RHSP Josh Hall (0-2, 6.57, 2003 CIN)
OF Josh Bunce (0-for-4, 1877)
RHRP Josh Banks (0-0, 7.36 as 2007 TOR rookie)
RHRP Josh Pearce (0-0, 5.55, parts of 2002-04)
Several other Joshes played in the big leagues but are not listed here.

In two differnt eras, the first name "Joshua" has been, if not common, at least fairly represented in major league baseball annals; there were a number of players named Joshua in the 19th century (and the very early part of the 20th century), and there are quite a few now active, as the makeup of the above roster should indicate.

But over the eight decades that covered the years 1915-1995, the only three men to appear in a big league game with the name "Josh" or "Joshua" were that family-named OF Von, who played from 1969-80; and those two aforementioned (unrelated) Billings boys, John (1913-23) and Haskell (1927-29) ... so for eighty years, there was nobody in the major leagues with the given first (or even middle) name Joshua ... Can you think of any other given'first names that might fit that patterm?

Better hope those infielders stay healthy ... there's not much help on a bench that features a third catcher (yes, Our Hero Gibson will DH with Bard donning the tools of ignorance), a quarterback and a bunch of outfielders ... Another hole on this squad appears in the closer's position ... who shuts down the opposition? ... And there are no lefties in the 'pen, and just the one at the back of the rotation -- when your ERA begins with the number "8," there may be issues with effectiveness ... Former Jay Josh Banks is a final cut from the pitching staff, but could still bounce back to fight his way onto the squad ... That rotation looks shaky after Beckett -- Towers is hit-or-miss, but consistent by Fogg's standards; and can Johnson return to form? ...

It looks like Gibson's "greatest Josh" status eeems secure for now ...
More Than Just Joshin' | 2 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Mike Green - Sunday, April 13 2008 @ 08:56 AM EDT (#182627) #
Josh Willingham is a horrid defensive outfielder, and a born DH if there ever was one.  Josh Devore could not have been worse in the outfield.  So, I would move Gibson back behind the plate, Willingham to DH and Devore to the OF, with Bard to the bench. 
Craig B - Sunday, April 13 2008 @ 01:03 PM EDT (#182641) #
Furthermore, Josh Gibson was a very capable defensive catcher before he got prematurely old, before the drink and the buses and too many games got to him.  In particular, he was noted for having a very good arm, both accurate and strong.

There was a greater premium on catcher defense in Negro League baseball (at least in league competition) because of the greater reliance on speed, and yet Gibson was only rarely moved off the plate (usually to right field or third base), and then only when he was injured - he had a shoulder that would constantly dislocate and if it popped out on him, he might "rest" by moving to right field for a couple of games before going back behind the plate.  He was a much better catcher than outfielder, though, because he got dizzy quite easily (and so he did have occasional trouble with high flies or foul pops), although until the end of the 1930s Gibson ran quite well.

As a defensive catcher, he would have been most reminiscent of someone like Lance Parrish - very strong body, very strong arm with good accuracy, physically intimidating, very durable while in his twenties, not noted for his ability to block balls in the dirt or calling the game but not a slouch.
More Than Just Joshin' | 2 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.