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George "Mooney" Gibson, 1880-1967

George "Mooney" Gibson, 1880-1967

Find location on Google Maps: Labatt Memorial Park, 25 Wilson Avenue, London

Plaque installed on August 19, 1989

George "Mooney" Gibson

Photo credit: Ivey Family London Room, London Public Library, PG M-31, from Sporting News, 1910, reproduced in London Free Press, June 2, 1953

History

George “Mooney” Gibson, a native Londoner, played fourteen seasons as a catcher in the major leagues and was considered Canada’s best baseball player of the first half of the twentieth century. He spent twelve seasons with the Pittsburgh Pirates and two with the New York Giants, playing 1,213 games. Later, he twice managed the Pittsburgh team, and once the Chicago Cubs.

It is notable that in 1877 Gibson’s uncle managed the London Tecumsehs in the first game ever played in this park. As a youth, “Mooney” Gibson (the nickname was derived from his round face) played on local church and city teams in Tecumseh (now Labatt) Park. In 1903, he tried out with Buffalo of the Eastern League, played the 1904 season with Montreal in the same league, and signed with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1905.

Gibson was known for his ability to catch foul balls and to throw out base stealers (of which there were many more than in today’s game). In 1909, he set an endurance record by catching 150 games in a row. That same year, Gibson played in all seven games of the World Series in which the Pittsburgh Pirates, including players such as Honus Wagner, defeated the Detroit Tigers led by Ty Cobb and Sam Crawford. Returning to London, Gibson was celebrated with speeches and a parade. Among those in attendance was Gibson’s friend, Hughie Jennings, the Detroit Tigers manager.

In 1921, manager George “Mooney” Gibson brought his Pirates here to play an exhibition match against the London Tecumsehs of the Michigan-Ontario League. Gibson, aged 41, agreed to catch one inning of the game while a teammate from the 1909 World Series pitched.

London Tecumsehs Baseball Team

Click on image for details Black and white photograph of the London Tecumsehs Baseball Team posing in Tecumseh Park (now Labatt Park).