When you think of the greatest baseball player of all time, what image comes to mind? Is it Babe Ruth? Willie Mays? Ty Cobb?
Chances are you didn’t immediately shout at your computer, “Josh Gibson!”
But many baseball historians feel strongly that’s a name that belongs in Baseball’s pantheon of legendary figures. Why aren’t we all as familiar with that name as we are with the ones I just listed?
Unlike them, Josh Gibson never had a chance to play in the MLB.
Although he was arguably the greatest player alive during his career, he was shut out of the league due to segregation. And it was just a short time after a brain tumor ended his career and life that Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier and re-integrated baseball.
It hits the Detroit Opera House Stage on Saturday, May 12th at 7:30 p.m. The Michigan Opera Theatre production runs through May 20th.
Sonenberg joins Detroit Today with Stephen Henderson to talk about the opera as well as the life and career of Josh Gibson.
“This seemed like such an obvious opera to me,” says Sonenberg. “He struck me as a very clear, tragic operatic figure.”
Henderson also speaks with soprano Jacqueline Echols, a Detroit native who portrays Gibson’s wife Helen, as well as Gary Gillette, a baseball writer and historian who is the founder and president of Friends of Historic Hamtramck Stadium, where Negro League baseball was played here in Metro Detroit.
Click on the audio player above to hear the full conversation.