The production Josh: The Black Babe Ruth focuses on Negro League baseball player Josh Gibson, who is considered by many to be the “best baseball player you never heard of.” QG discusses the new play with its writer, producer, and star Michael A. Jones.
Tell us a little bit about your background as an actor and screenwriter.
As an actor, I have performed in over 15 plays and several films. I’ve won two awards (Audelco). As a playwright, I’ve written a total of 10 plays and had five of my plays produced. I’ve also written several screenplays.
I have a BA in theatre arts from Point Park University. I’ve studied at Lincoln Center’s Director’s Lab, Gotham’s Writers Workshop, and the New York Film Academy. I’m a member of the Uptown Playwright’s Workshop.
You wrote, produced and will be starring in the lead role in the upcoming play Josh: The Black Babe Ruth, which is about the life of one of The Negro League’s greatest players, Josh Gibson. How did you first learn about Mr. Gibson’s story?
Growing up, I would hear references to Gibson and the Negro Leagues. It was constantly stated that some say Gibson died of a “broken heart.” This is what initially piqued my interest. I made the decision to write a historical piece, and Gibson’s story as the “best baseball player you never heard of” came to mind so I conducted more research. As part of my research, I interviewed family members and various historians.
What was the most inspiring aspect of his legacy that motivated you to write the play?
Gibson’s prolific astounding stats in home runs and accounts of his ability as a catcher. In addition, his ability to persevere in that type of oppressive environment as a black man in the 1940’s in a blue collar town. He managed to persevere through racial prejudices and economic strife.
Gibson also went through physiological issues – he was committed to mental institutions on more than one occasion. He later died of a brain aneurysm. Once I uncovered the depth of his story, I was greatly impressed that despite his challenges, he was able to gain acknowledgment as one of the best players in baseball history.
Can you share with us the process of getting the play produced?
Once I felt the play was ready for produ