The cancellation of the minor league baseball season isn’t stopping the West Virginia Power from featuring an important exhibition at Appalachian Power Park.
The Power, partnering with the Josh Gibson Foundation and AARP-West Virginia, will be the first pro baseball team in 2020 to host an exhibit on the Centennial Celebration of the Negro Leagues.
Barring severe weather or new COVID-19 restrictions, the Power will host the exhibit under the stadium’s third-base concourse canopy from noon to 6 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 7. The exhibit originally was to be the central part of the Power’s African American Heritage Night.
“Even though the pandemic forced the cancellation of the game and promotion, we believe this showcase of baseball’s history and history-making players is vital for us to host at our facility so we can honor the vibrant African American community in Charleston,” Power Managing Partner Tim Wilcox said in a news release.
Gibson was the second Negro League player to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, earning the honor posthumously in 1972. He was considered the “Babe Ruth of the Negro Leagues” during his tenure with the Homestead Grays and Pittsburgh Crawfords. Sporting News ranked him No. 18 in its list of the 100 greatest baseball players in history.
The exhibit features artifacts, photos, uniforms and other memorabilia from Gibson’s playing days with those teams and Veracruz of the Mexican League, along with visual displays and insights about the Negro Leagues and professional baseball during that era.
“With all that is happening throughout our nation this summer, I am pleased to have this opportunity with the West Virginia Power to help people understand more about the history of African Americans in professional baseball, which in many ways reflected and reflects our larger society,” said Sean Gibson, executive director of the Josh Gibson Foundation and Gibson’s great grandson. “As people of all ages learn more about Josh’s perseverance, courage and achievements in the face of many obstacles, we hope they may join the cause toward helping young people prepare for a brighter future through education, life coaching and lessons on the baseball field.”
The event is free and open to the public, but visitors must wear face coverings and adhere to proper social distancing requirements. Reservations are recommended for anyone wanting to visit the exhibit before 2 p.m. or after 4 p.m., and can be made by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org by noon on Aug. 6. People and small groups without reservations will be admitted as space permits, in keeping with federal, state and local health and safety guidelines.