“Wait, Josh Gibson played for the Cuban Stars, too?”

by Graig Kreindler

That’s what I said to myself only weeks before the Uniforms of Josh Gibson posters were about to be printed. In about eight months’ time (starting from late 2016), I had done a ton of research on the man, especially from a visual standpoint. He had played for many teams throughout his storied career, in the Negro Leagues, Cuban Leagues, Venezuelan Leagues, Dominican Leagues and Mexican Leagues. Each time, donning a different uniform for varying amounts of time, sometimes for an entire winter campaign, others for only a few games.

And in all of the time I spent digging through books and the Internet to find examples of each one, I had never run across anything about him being with the Cuban Stars. He’s not listed as playing for the team on his Wikipedia page. Nor Seamheads. Nor Baseball-Reference.

And none of what I’ve just written is a knock on the quality of these resources. Not even remotely. It’s just that if there’s one important thing I’ve discovered in these past eight months, it’s that the lack of this kind of information is not only par for the course, but will hover over my head for the remainder of the time I spend making these paintings (and let’s face it, well beyond).

White newspapers rarely covered those leagues, which means that not only was a lot of its history unwritten to millions of Americans, but also went unseen. The mere fact that most baseball fans are familiar with only a handful of images of somebody like Josh Gibson is a testament to that.

This was one of the reasons I was attracted to Jay’s project in the first place. I’m like a lot of baseball fans that are attracted to its history. I know Satchel Paige. I know Josh Gibson. I know Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Roy Campanella and Jackie Robinson all had stints there before coming to the bigs. That’s about how deep my pool of knowledge got. In other words, the game’s history that I know has mostly been seen through a white lens, and perhaps that’s how it’s been for a lot of other baseball fans.

As a result, this project was an opportunity for me to not only meet a lot of these guys for the first time, but also attempt to breathe life back into them somehow. Much like the great players of the Deadball Era in the white leagues, these guys fall under the ‘ancient history’ category and are perennially in black & white. And as such, we feel somewhat removed from them. But much like Babe Ruth or Ty Cobb, the great Pete Hill and Cristóbal Torriente played the game in living color. They breathed the same air as these guys did. And though maybe they weren’t able to compete with them (for the most part), they certainly deserve to be remembered just as much for their contributions to the sport.

Although the scope of this whole endeavor with Jay is rather large, I KNOW that we’ve still only scratched at the surface. There’s still so much to learn. Who knows, maybe I’ll run into a couple more uniforms that Josh Gibson wore, ones that I never knew he did. I certainly wouldn’t be surprised in the least.

And with Satchel Paige, well, don’t even get me started on what I’ve missed.

Graig Kreindler, born in 1980, grew up in Rockland County, New York. In 2002, he graduated with Honors from the School of Visual Arts in New York City with a BFA in Illustration and received his Masters in Art Education from Lehman College. His award-winning sports work has appeared in juried shows and museums nationwide, as well as having been featured in nationally distributed books, newspapers, magazines, and both Internet and television featurettes. Graig is one of Dreams Fulfilled’s featured artists

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