JOSH: THE BLACK BABE RUTH
“Josh: The Black Babe Ruth,” a full-length play written by Michael A. Jones and staged and directed by Bette Howard, tells the story of a Negro League baseball player who some say died of a broken heart. Although Josh Gibson's good friend and legendary pitcher Satchel Paige tries to shed light on the business of baseball, Josh is determined to make into the “big leagues” and show the world he can rival the greats, such as Babe Ruth and Joe DiMaggio. Set in the 1940's. Based on real events.
THEATER FOR THE NEW CITY – Theater for the New City Executive Director Crystal Field is presenting “Josh: The Black Babe Ruth,” a critically acclaimed play by Michael A. Jones about one of the greatest players in the Negro Leagues.
Jones’ play, set in the 1940s, presents the story of Josh Gibson, who went from the sandlots of Pittsburgh’s North Side to the pinnacle of greatness in the Negro Leagues.
It looks at his successes, sorrows and struggles to try to break into “the big leagues” and play with white players at a time when the sport was still segregated.
The play, staged and directed by Bette Howard, mixes drama and humor to tell one of the more poignant stories in sports and society in a three-week run April 19 -May 7, Wed. through Sat. at 8 p.m. and Sun. at 3 p.m.
“He was considered one of the greatest home run hitters, most feared sluggers of any era, and called by many “’the Black Babe Ruth,’” Jones, who also plays Josh Gibson, said. “Gibson left an undeniable legacy of greatness and accomplishment.”
The play, based on real events, is likely to tell the story of the best (or one of the best) ballplayers you never heard of.
Although Gibson never got to play in the “big leagues,” he would live on and be honored by the institution that today serves as a memorial to Babe Ruth and many other great ballplayers.
Gibson’s career in Pittsburgh as a member of the Homestead Grays, the dominant team in the Negro Leagues, led to his induction in the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown in 1972.
“’Josh: The Black Babe Ruth’ is story of a Negro League baseball player who some say died of a broken heart,” Jones added. “Although his good friend and legendary pitcher Satchel Paige tries to shed light on the business of baseball, Josh is determined to make it into the ‘big leagues’ and show the world he can rival the greats, such as Babe Ruth and Joe DiMaggio.”
The play was first produced at Woodie King, Jr.’s New Federal Theatre before Theater for the New City signed on to present it
Backstage described the earlier production of the five-character play in a critic’s pick as “lively, vividly performed.”
Caribbean Life magazine succinctly wrote that one should “run, don’t walk to see Josh and Satchel.”
The play is directed by Bette Howard, an original member of the Negro Ensemble Company, which became the premier theater company of Black theater artists in the 1960’s and 70's in New York City.
“Its focus was on original works with complex themes grounded in black life with an international viewpoint,” Jones added of that group. “NEC created a canon of theatrical works that set the stage and created the audience for writers who came later.”
The company included Denzel Washington, Lynn Whitfield, Samuel L. Jackson, and Phylicia Rashad and set the stage for writers such as August Wilson and Suzan-Lori Parks.
Jones’ other writing credits include “It Takes a Village to Raise…Hell,” produced by The Marian Holding Theatre; “Family Matters,” produced at Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre Company and “Angela’s Justice,” produced at Theater for the New City.
His play “The Skin I’m In” is touring the New York City public schools and he is a founding member of the Uptown Playwrights’ Workshop.
As an actor, Jones won two AUDELCO Awards for performances in "A Night with August Wilson's Women" and "Fences."
Theater for the New City, 155 First Ave. (at E. 10th Street)
April 19-May 7
Wed. - Sat. at 8:00 PM Sunday at 3:00 PM
Theater for the New City