George Gibson was a 5'11" catcher from London, Ontario, born July 22nd, 1880. The right-handed hitting and throwing Canuck made his professional debut in 1903 with the Class "D" level Kingston Colonials of the Hudson River League, later making a pit stop with the Class "A" Buffalo Bisons in the Eastern League. 1904 would see him spend the whole season with the Montreal Royals in the Eastern League, hitting .204 in 80 games. After hitting .290 through 41 games in 1905, he was signed by the Pirates to play in the Major Leagues beginning in July.
In his major league debut, he was credited with six putouts, two assists, and an error. As noted in "The Glory of Their Times," and reprinted at sabr.org:
"The first time one of the Cincinnati players got on first base, he tried to steal second. I rocked back on my heels and threw a bullet, knee high, right over the base. Both the shortstop and second baseman-Honus Wagner and Claude Ritchey-ran to cover second base, but the ball went flying into center field before either of them got near it. I figured they were trying to make me look bad, letting the throw go by, because I was a rookie. But Wagner came in, threw his arms around me, and said, 'Just keep throwing that way, kid. It was our fault, not yours.' What had happened was that they had gotten so used to Heinie Pietz's rainbows that any throw on a straight line caught them by surprise."
Through his rookie season, Gibson caught 46 games, hitting .178 with 14 runs and 14 RBI. More importantly, he caught 48.8 percent of runners trying to steal on him, ranking fourth in the National League. Pittsburgh went 96-57, second in the league nine games behind the New York Giants.
1906 would see Gibson play in 81 games for the Pirates at catcher. His batting average remained steady at .178, with eight runs and 20 RBI. Lucky for him and for the Bucs, so did his defensive prowess. He picked off or threw out 72-of-151 runners on the season, a 47.7 percent success rate, fifth in the NL. At 93-60, the Pirates were only good enough to place third in the National League, 23.5 games behind the 116-36 Chicago Cubs.
In 1907, Gibson, also known as "Moon," Hit .220 with 28 runs and 35 RBI, catching an NL leading 109 games for the Pirates (of 113 overall). He also threw out half of would-be base stealers, snagging 86-of-172 prospective thieves ranking him second in the NL.
Gibson outdid himself in 1908. He backstopped an NL leading 143 games for the Bucs, hitting .228 with 37 runs, 19 doubles, and 45 RBI. He threw out 92-of-215 baserunnners, a 43 percent success rate. Pittsburgh missed out on the pennant by one game, at 98-56 behind the Cubs.
In 1909, Gibson caught 150 games for the Pirates, including a then-NL record 134 straight. He also picked up his offensive statistics, hitting .265 with 42 runs, 25 doubles, and 52 RBI. He led the league by throwing out 138-of-261 runners, giving him a career high 53 percent caught stealing rate. His .983 fielding percentage also led the NL. The Cubs were still great, but the Pirates were better, at 110-42 leaving the Cubs out of the money, 6.5 games behind. The Pirates defeated the Detroit Tigers for the World Series title in seven games. Gibson went 6-for-26 (.240) with two doubles and two RBI.
1910 would see Gibson hit .259 catching an NL leading 143 games for the Bucs. . He scored 53 times with 22 doubles and 44 RBI. He also walked a career high 47 times against only 31 strikeouts, showing patience from the offensive side of the plate. Defensively, he caught an NL leading 137-of-292 runners, also leading the league with a .984 fielding percentage. The Pirates finished the season 17.5 games behind pennant winning Chicago, at 86-67.
In 1911, Gibson played in 100 games as the Pittsburgh backstop. His average regressed to .209, with 32 runs and 19 RBI. He walked 29 times with 16 strikeouts, defensively catching 46 percent of baserunners on the campaign. Oddly, considering his prior three campaigns, he finished 17th in the NL MVP award voting. Pittsburgh finished third in the NL at 85-69, 14.5 games behind the New York Giants.
Gibson played five more seasons at catcher for the Pirates, (.240 through 95 games in 1912, .280 in 48 games in 1913, .285 in 102 games in 1914, .251 in 120 games in 1915, and .202 in 33 games in 1916). He was picked up off waivers in August 1916 by the New York Giants. In two seasons with the club, he hit .179 in 39 games.
All-Time Statline: 12 seasons, 1174 games, .238/.296/.314, 878-for-3692, 294 runs, 138 doubles, 49 triples, 15 home runs, 340 RBI, 39 stolen bases, 279 walks, 266 strikeouts, 13.3 wins above replacement.