Monessen to Honor Baseball Great Josh Gibson

Matt Shorraw
3 min readJul 19, 2021

A dedication ceremony will be held on Thursday, July 22 at 10 am on Donner Avenue.

MONESSEN — The City of Monessen is teaming up with Major League Baseball, the Pittsburgh Pirates, and the Gibson Foundation to honor All-Time Negro League Great, Josh Gibson. Gibson is a legendary power hitter and catcher, and a member of the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

Local newspaper archives credit Gibson for hitting what became the second-longest home run of his career outside of Monessen’s Page Park Ballfield (also known as Tin Plate Field). The 538-foot hit was made on July 24, 1938, while Gibson was playing for the Homestead Grays at a Negro League game against the Memphis Red Sox in Monessen. The hit ricocheted off of nearby mill buildings and almost went into the Monongahela River. Monessen’s Mayor, James Gold, measured the hit with game officials.

Monessen’s Page Park, originally called Tin Plate Field, due to the proximity of Donner’s nearby tin mill, was built in the early 1900s to serve as a recreational opportunity for mill workers. The field hosted Monessen’s Minor League team, the Monessen Indians, as well as Negro League and local games. The park sat on the opposite side of the railroad tracks, closest to the river, and was accessible by a road (now called “Josh Gibson Way”) between 1st and 2nd Streets at Donner Avenue. The railroad tunnel leading to the field, which is now partially blocked off is called Page Tunnel. It still exists today.

In 2020, Monessen resident Frank Lopresti and Monessen Mayor Matt Shorraw began talking about Gibson’s hit in Monessen. With the help of Lopresti, and Dan Zyglowicz at the Greater Monessen Historical Society, Shorraw was able to fill in missing pieces and find the exact date the home run took place. Mayor Shorraw contacted MLB in late 2020, asking if they would be interested in donating a plaque to commemorate Gibson. After months of planning, the Gibson historical marker will be dedicated at a ceremony on July 22, 2021, at 10 am near 165 Donner Avenue, near the site of Page Park, along Donner Avenue. Mayor Shorraw says he is “humbled, honored, and thrilled to be able to honor Josh Gibson in this way and to commemorate such a unique local historical event. Gibson wasn’t given the respect and accolades he deserved when he was alive and playing ball. I’m glad that we are able to commemorate his achievements now — not just in Monessen, but also throughout the region and beyond.”

Josh Gibson’s great-grandson, Sean Gibson serves as the Executive Director of the Josh Gibson Foundation. Sean is thrilled to see his great-grandfather honored in this way. “It is a privilege to see Josh Gibson’s legacy commemorated in Monessen. I am excited and gratified to know residents of the town, as well as visitors, will learn the rich history and achievements of Josh for many years to come”

A dedication ceremony will be held on Thursday, July 22 at 10 am on Donner Avenue. Free activities, food, and fun will be available. The public is welcomed to attend. Officials representing MLB, the Pirates, the Josh Gibson Foundation, and the Gibson family will be in attendance.

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Matt Shorraw

29. BS, Music Tech; Attending Harvard Univ. Mayor, City of Monessen PA. Community Organizer. Proud Alpha Chi Rho Brother. Love data, policy, and urban affairs.