The Madison County Journal
November 22, 2000
Trying to exclude veterans'
votes is shameful
On Saturday, Nov. 11, this nation paused to remember her veterans.
On November 15th, a lawyer supporting Democrat Al Gore sent out
a letter on how to disqualify overseas ballots from future veterans,
thus denying them the right to take part in the selection of
the next president. I find the juxtaposition of these events
to be astounding.
It is not an easy thing for military personnel to vote. First,
you have to fill out a form requesting a ballot from your home
county. On the form, you have to include your permanent home
address, your military address and proof that you are registered
to vote. The registrars of your county then mail a ballot to
you. After receiving the ballot, you are required to fill out
the ballot in the presence of a witness. You then must fill out
a certificate saying you cast the ballot, include the date and
location of the vote, sign the certificate and have the witness
sign the certificate. The entire package is then returned to
the Board of Registrars by the deadline.
I went through this process in 1960. As some of you might remember,
that was a very close election that included charges of voter
fraud on the part of the Democrats that put President Kennedy
in office. In that election Richard Nixon refused to challenge
the vote, saying that he would not cause a crisis. (Al Gore,
Having served in the military, including a tour in Europe, I
am painfully aware of the sacrifice members of the armed forces
make for this nation.
I have seen the vast fields of stones that mark the graves of
those men and women who fell in combat. I know of those who were
injured both physically and mentally in combat. I experienced
the months of separation from home and family, the intense and
often dangerous training and the tedious duty that is typical
of military service.
I can only feel anger when someone comes along and tries to prevent
those hard-won ballots from being counted. Members of the military
are under the direct control of the President. He is the Commander
in Chief which all military people must obey. If the President
says to go to Vietnam, the Gulf Cost, Africa, Serbia or any other
location, the military must go. The very idea that someone with
a bad case of egomania would try to prevent these people from
helping choose that Commander in Chief is simply inexcusable.
Those political operatives who are dedicated to victory at any
cost have gone too far this time. The deliberate effort to block
votes from our nation's military, in my opinion, disqualifies
the Democrats from any further consideration for the Presidency.
It is time for Al Gore to concede the election and allow George
W. Bush to proceed with the formation of the next government.
Frank Gillispie is founder of The Madison County Journal.
His web page can be accessed at www.mcga.net. His e-mail address
The Madison County Journal
November 22, 2000
From the Editor's Desk
Here's an interesting fact: Jackie Robinson was not the first
black Major League baseball player. That distinction belongs
to Moses Fleetwood Walker, who suited up with the Major League
Toledo Blue Stockings in 1884. (See "Fleet Walker's Divided
Heart: The Life of Baseball's First Black Major Leaguer"
by David W. Zang.)
In the 63 years between Walker and Robinson, no black player
was allowed on a big league club. And in this gap, many great
players were left in the shadows, players like Oscar Charleston,
Cool Papa Bell, Judy Johnson and Satchell Paige. Paige eventually
made it into the majors, but way past his prime at the age of
But it's Josh Gibson, who was born in Buena Vista, Georgia, in
1912, who intrigues me most.
He was, by many accounts, the greatest hitter ever. Gibson was
often called the "black Babe Ruth." But many who saw
him considered Ruth "the white Josh Gibson."
Gibson, who moved from Georgia to Pittsburgh at the age of 12,
was a power hitter, who also hit for average. He had enormous
upper body strength and was known for having a tremendous eye
and lightning reflexes.
There are countless tales of the catcher's power.
He is rumored to have been the only man to hit the ball out of
Yankee Stadium in fair territory, though this tale is supported
by little fact. But other stories have more credence. William
Brashler, in his book "Josh Gibson: A Life in the Negro
Leagues," writes about the time the mayor of Monessen, Pennsylvania,
stopped a game to pace off one of Gibson's blasts at 512 feet.
There's the story of Gibson blasting a ball out of a park in
San Juan, Puerto Rico, and over a prison fence, some 525 feet
away, narrowly missing some inmates.
Perhaps the most awe-inspiring feat of strength was a mere 375-foot
blast. Gibson faced a pitcher named Sonny Cornelius in Indianapolis.
Cornelius threw a curve that fooled Gibson. Off balance, and
with his left hand no longer on the bat, Gibson swatted at the
ball with his right hand and drove it out of the park.
It's good that there are tales to relate, because the numbers
Baseball statisticians recently added an RBI to Hack Wilson's
all-time single season RBI record - from 190 to 191. This highlights
a telling difference in old-time white versus black baseball.
While one RBI may be called into question in Wilson's record
year, Gibson's career home run total ranges from 600 to 900,
depending on who you ask.
The Negro Leagues lacked solid statistics. And numbers are the
primary tools in establishing greatness across the ages.
Still, Gibson's gargantuan home runs drew large crowds and turned
the heads of some of the white players of the time.
Gibson, who played for two Negro League teams - the Homestead
Grays and Pittsburgh Crawfords - also traveled south of the border
several years, playing winter ball against some of the white
Major Leaguers of the day, like Jimmie Foxx, since there was
no color barrier outside of the states and the money was better
in places like Venezuala, Mexico and Cuba.
In an interview late in his career, Gibson said his greatest
achievement in baseball was winning the MVP of the 1941 Puerto
Rican League, a modest prize for a man who was considered a premier
slugger in baseball.
In 1972, he received a much greater honor, an induction into
the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. But he wasn't there for the
recognition. Diagnosed with a brain tumor in 1943, Gibson avoided
surgery and died four years later at the age of 35, the winter
after Robinson broke into the big leagues.
It's interesting to think about today's game without Pedro Martinez,
Frank Thomas, Ken Griffey Jr., Sammy Sosa, Barry Bonds, Albert
Belle or Andruw Jones.
Certainly, the game would suffer. And it did during the Jim Crow
days too. The lacking was real and guys like Gibson and Paige
are proof of that.
November is a time for reflection in baseball. The World Series
is over. Postseason honors are awarded. Greats of today are measured
against the legends of yesteryear.
The arguments over who is the all-time best are fun. You must
weigh the differences in the game then and now, such as how the
development of relief pitching has skewed the numbers, blurring
comparisons between the eras.
But a well-rounded argument will also acknowledge those who were
left out of the game - and a Georgia-born man who could have
left lasting ink in the record books, if given a shot.
Zach Mitcham is editor of The Madison County Journal.