John Russell Gibson (May 6, 1939 – July 27, 2008) was an American reserve catcher in Major League Baseball who played for the Boston Red Sox and San Francisco Giants between 1967 and 1972. Listed at 6' 1", 195 lb., he batted and threw right-handed. Gibson was born and raised in Fall River, Massachusetts, and was a graduate of B.M.C. Durfee High School, where he was a three-sport star, including playing forward for the 1956 New England championship basketball team.
Gibson spent ten years in the minors before serving as a backup catcher for his hometown team, the Red Sox, from 1967 through 1969. As a 28-year-old rookie, he made his major league debut with the Red Sox at Yankee Stadium on April 14, catching fellow rookie Billy Rohr, who started against Whitey Ford and the New York Yankees. Rohr was one strike away from a no-hitter when Elston Howard looped a two-out, ninth inning single to right-center field. Gibson also contributed in the Rohr's 3–0, one-hit shutout, going 2–for–4 and scoring a run. Later in the season, on June 12 he hit a two-run home run at Fenway Park to defeat the Yankees 3–1.
A member of the 1967 "Impossible Dream" Red Sox team, he caught the first game of that year's World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals. Coincidentally, Gibson would be replaced by Howard late that season, and would continue to platoon with Howard through the 1968 season. Gibson enjoyed his best season in 1969, when he posted career highs in games played (85), batting average (.251), hits (72), runs (21), home runs (3) and runs batted in (27), as he platooned with Jerry Moses and Tom Satriano. Before the 1970 season he was sold by Boston to the Giants, playing for them until 1972.
In a six-season career, Gibson was a .228 hitter (181–for–794) with eight home runs and 78 RBI in 264 games, including 49 runs, 34 doubles, four triples, and two stolen bases. Gibson had resided in Swansea, Massachusetts since 1982, and died there at age 69 after a long illness, on the same day that his 1967 manager Dick Williams was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
By Dean Hanley
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